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THE LEICESTERSHIRES BEYOND 
BAGHDAD 



The Leicestershires 
Beyond Bahdad 

BY 
EDWARD J. THOlVlPSON, NI.C. 
AUTHOR OF 
' MESOPOTAMIAN VERSES,' ' ENNERDALE BRIDGI.' 
' WALTHAM THICKETS,' ETC. 

THE 

LONDON 
EPWORTH PRESS 
J. ALFRED SHARP 



Fi,st Edition, Decembe,, xgt9 



To my brother, FRANK D. THOMPSON. Second-Lieutenant 
Civil Service Rifles, attached King's Royal Ritles; killed in 
action, near Ypres, Jan. 3, r9r7- 

Our soldier youth thrice-loved, whose laughing face 
In battle's front can danger meet xvith eyes 
No fear could e'er surprise ; 
Nor stain of self in their gay love leave trace, 
His nature like his naine, 
Frank, and his eager spirit pure as flame. 
IValtham Thickets. 



PREFACE 

THE Mesopotamian War was a side-show, so dis- 
tant from Europe that even the tragedy of Kut and 
the slaughter which failed to save out troops and 
prestige were felt chiefly in retrospect, when the 
majority of the men who suffered so vainly had gone 
into the silence of death or of captivity. \Vhen 
Maude's offensive carried out arms again into Kut, 
and beyond, to Baghdad, interest revived; but of the 
hard fighting which followed, which made Baghdad 
secure, nothing bas been ruade known, or next to 
nothing. The men in Mesopotamia did not feel 
that this was unnatural. We felt, none more so, 
that it was the European War which mattered; 
indeed, out lot often seemed the harder by reason 
of its little apparent importance. Yet, after ail, 
Baghdad was the first substantial victory which 
no subsequent reverse swept away; and if came 
when the need of victory, for very prestige's sake, 
was very great. 
Mr. Candler has written, bitterly enough, of the 
way the Censorship impeded him in his work as 
official ' Eye-witness.' His was a thankless task; 
as he well knows, few of us, though we were all his 
friends, have not groused at his reports of out 
operations. No unit groused more on this head 
7 



8 PREFACE 

than my own division. We usually had a cam- 
paign and a bank of the Tigris to ourselves. ' Eye- 
witness' rightly chose to be with the other 
divisions across theriver. Inevitably the 7th Meerut 
Division got the meagrest show in such meagre 
dispatches as the Censors allowed him to send home. 
The 2nd Leicestershires, an old and proud bat- 
talion, with the greatest of reputations on the field 
of action, remained unknown to the Press and 
public. Out other two ]3ritish battalions, the 
Ist Seaforths and the 2nd Black Watch, could be 
referred to--even the Censors alloved this--as 
'Highlanders'; and those who were interested 
knew that the reference lay between these two 
regiments and the Highland Light Infantry. But 
who was going to connect the rare reference to 
' Midlanders ' with the Leicestershires ? 
In May, 1917, the 7th Division tried to put to- 
gether, for the Press, a connected account of their 
campaigning since Maude's offensive began. After 
various people, well qualified to do the work, had 
refused, it was devolved on me, on the simple 
grounds that a padre, as is well known, has only 
one day of work a week. The notion fell through. 
The authorities declined flatly to allow any refer- 
ence to units by naine, and no one took any more 
interest in a task so useless and soulless. But I 
had collected so much information from different 
units that I determined some day to try to put the 
story together. I have now selected two cam- 
paigns, those for railhead and for Tekrit, and ruade 
a straightforward narrative. From a multitude 
of such narratives the historian will build up his 
work hereafter. 



PREFACE 9 

An article by General Wauchope appeared in 
Blackwood's, 'The 13attle that won Samarrah.' 
This article hot only stressed the fact that the Black 
Watch were first in 13aghdad and Samarra--an 
accident; they were the freshest unit on each 
occasion, while other units were exhausted from 
fighting just finished--but dismissed the second 
day of 'the battle that won Samarra' with one 
long paragraph, from which the reader could get 
no other meaning except the one that this day also 
was won by the saine units as did the fighting of the 
2Ist. This was a handling of fact which appealed 
neither to the Black Watch, whose achievements 
need no aid of embellishment from imagination, 
nor to the Leicestershires, who were ruade to appear 
spectators through the savage fighting of two days. 
If the reader turns to the chapter in this book en- 
titled ' The Battle for Samarra,' he will learn what 
actually happened on April 22, 1917. The only 
other reference in print, that I know of, to the fight- 
ing for Samala'a is the chapter in Mr. Candler's 
book. This, he tells us, was largely taken over 
by him from a j ournalist who visited out battle- 
fields during the lull of summer. He showed the 
account to officers of my division, myself among 
them, and they added a few notes. But the 
chapter remained bare and comparatively uninterest- 
ing beside the accounts of actions which Mr. Candler 
had witnessed. 
For this book, then, my materials bave been: 
First, my own experience of events quorum ego 
pars minima. Next, my own note-books, care- 
fully kept over a long period in Mesopotamia and 
Palestine, a period from which these two campaigns 



o PREFACh 

of Samarra and Tekrit have been selected. Thirdly, 
I saw regimental war-diaries and talked with brigade 
and regimental officers. Most of aH, from the 
Leicestershires I gained information. It is rarely 
any use to question men about an action; even 
if they speak freely, they say little which is of value 
on the printed page. One may live with a regi- 
mental mess for months, running into years, as 
I did with the Leicestershires' subalterns, and hear 
little that is illuminating, till some electric spark 
may start a tire of living reminiscence. But from 
many of my comrades, atone time and another, I 
bave picked up a fact. I am especially indebted 
to Captain J. O. C. Hasted, D.S.O., for permission 
to use his lecture on the Samarra battle. I couad 
have used this lecture still more vith great gain; 
but I did not wish to impair its interest in itself, 
as if should be published. From Captain F. J. 
Diggins, bi.C., I gained a first-hand account of 
the capture of the Turkish guns. And Major 
Kenneth Mason, M.C., helped me with information 
in the Tekrit fighting. My brother, Lieutenant 
A. R. Thompson, drew the maps. 
In conclusion, though the Mesopotamian War 
was of minor importance beside the fighting in 
Western Europe, for the chronicler it has its own 
advantages. If our fighting was on a smaller scale, 
we saw it more clearly. The 7th Division, as I 
have said, usualiy had a campaign, with its battles, 
to themselves. We were nota fractional part of 
an eruption along many hundreds of mlles; we were 
our own little volcano. And it was the opinion 
of many of us that on no front was there such com- 
radeship ; yet many had corne from France, and two 



PREFACE II 

divisions afterwards saw service on the Palestine 
front. Nor can any front have had so many grim 
jokes as those with which we kept ourselves sane 
through the long-drawn failure before Kut and the 
dragging months which followed. 



CONTENTS 
INTRODUCTION o . . I 
I. BELED 21 
II. HARBE 48 
III. THE FIRST BATTLE OF ISTABULAT 59 
IV. THE BATTLE FOR SAMARRA 70 
V. SUMMER AND WAITING . 104 
VI. HUWESLET ; OR, « THE BATTLE OF JUBER 
ISLAND ' . 120 
VII. DAU.R . . 124 
VIII. AUJEH . . . 131 
IX. TEKRIT . . 135 
X. DOWN TO BUSRA .... 145 



INTRODUCTION 

ON November 6, 1914, Brigadier-General Delamaine 
captured Fao forts, and the Mesopotamian War. 
began in the smallest possible way, the proverbial 
' corporal's uard' breaking into n empire. 
The next twelve months saw a great deal of 
fighting, unorthodox in every way, carried through 
in appalling weathers and with the most inadequate 
forces. 
In the three days' battle at Shaiba, in April, 
defeat was hardly escaped. 
In Ai.fil and May General Gorringe conducted 
the Ahwaz operations, near the Persian border, 
with varying success, and threatened Amara, on 
the Tigris, midway between Busra and Baghdad. 
In May Townshend began his advance up-country. 
By June 3 he had taken Q'urna, where Tigris and 
Euphrates mingle; presently his miscellaneous 
marine and a handful of men took Amara, in what 
was known as 'Townshend's Regatta.' Seventeen 
guns and neafly two thousand prisoners were taken 
at Amara. 
In the heats of July, incredible as it sounds, 
Gorringe was fighting on the Euphrates, by Nasiri- 
yeh, taking twenty-«.ne guns and over a thousand 
prisoners. 
On September 28 Townshend won his last victory 
t Kut-el-Amara, taking fourteen guns and eleven 



6 INTRODUCTION 

hundred prisoners. Every one knows what fol- 
lowed: how Ctesiphon was fought in November, 
with four thousand rive hundred and sixty-seven 
casualties, and how his force raced bzLck to Kut. On 
Dccember 7 Kut was invested by the Turks. 
Townshend's stand here saved the lower country to 
IlS. 
Relief forces disembarked at Ali Gharbi, between 
Amara and Kut, and some of the bitt.rest fighting 
the world has seen began. Sheikh Saad (Janua .ry 6 
to 8) was a costl¥ victory. A gleam of hope came 
with the Russian offensive in Northern Asia Minor. 
On January 3, at the Wadi, six toiles beyond 
Shei-kh Saad and less than thirty miles from Kut, 
the Turks held us up, but slipped away in the 
night. 
Ail advancing was ov«.r fiat round devoid of 
evcn scrub-cover, through a region the most desolate 
in the world. Above Amara there is a place 
called 'Lone-Tree Village,' which has a small tree 
ten feet high. Except for a handful of draggled 
palms at Sheikh Saad, this tree is the only one till 
Kut is reached, on a river frontage of sixty miles. 
On January 2o the British suffered a heavy 
repulse at Umm-el-Hanna, rive miles beyond the 
Wadi. For nearly seven weeks our troops sat 
down in the swamps, and died of disease. The 
tains were abnormal. 
On March 8 a long flank march up the right bank 
of the Tigris took the enemy by surprise, and 
reached I)ujaileh, less than ten miles from Kut. 
Time was wasted in an orthodox but unnecessary 
bombardment. The Turks swarmed back into 
the redoubt, and we were bloodily thrust back, 



INTROD UC TION x 7 

and returned to our lines before Hanna, with heavy 
losses in rnen and transport. After that very few 
cherished any hope of saving Kut. 
April was a rnonth of terrible fighting, frontal 
attacks on a very brave and exultant enerny. The 
I3th Division, frorn Gallipoli, took the Hanna 
trenches, which were practically deserted, on 
April 5- The day went well for us. In the after- 
noon Abu Roman lines on the right bank, and 
in the evening those of Felahiyeh on the left bank, 
were carried by storrn. But next day the first 
of the rive battles of Sannaiyat was fought. We 
were repulsed. 
The Turk's procedure was easy. He shot us 
down as we advanced over fiat country. We dug 
ourselves in four hundred yards away (say). Then 
we sapped up to within storrning distance, and 
attacked again, to find that the lines were thinly 
held, with a rnachine-gun or two, but that another 
position awaited us beyond, at the end of a long 
level sweep of desert. 
On April 9 carne the second battle of Sannaiyat. 
The tirne has not corne to speak frankly of this 
day; but our rnen lay in heaps. So frorn the 
I6th to the ISth we tried frontal attacks on the 
other bank, the right again. This vas the battle 
of Beit Aiessa. We did so well that the enerny had 
to counter-attack, which he did in the inost deter- 
Inined Inanner, forcing us back. It cost hirn at 
least three thousand dead; but by this day's 
work he inade sure of Kut and its garrison. Out 
one hope now was in the Russians. But their 
offensive halted; and we fought, on the 22nd, 
the third of the Sannaiyat battles. On the 29th, 
B 



18 INTROD UCTION 

after a siege of one hundred and forty-three days, 
Kut surrendered, and with it the biggest tritish 
force ever taken by any enemy. 
A summer inexpressibly harassing and depressed 
followed ; but towards the end of I96 affairs were 
reorganized, and at last a general was round. On 
the night of December 3 we crossed the Shat-el-Hai, 
and Maude's attack on Kut began. Ten weeks 
of fighting, very little interrupted by the weather, 
followed. It was stern work, hand-to-hand and 
trench-to-trench, as in France. By the end of 
the third week in Febrary Kut was doomed. 
The Turk had ruade the nfistake of leaving small, 
unsupported groups of men in angles and corners 
of the Tigris. Maude destroyed these, and between 
the 22nd and the 25th launched his final attacks 
simultaneously on both banks. A badly managed 
attack on Sannaiyat had failed on the ITth; but 
now, on the 22nd, the lines were stormed. Fighting 
continued here, and the river was crossed and 
bridged behind the Tur, ks, above Kut, at Shumran. 
The Sannaiyat garrison fled precipitately, and 
the 7th Indian Division occupied successively the 
Nakhailat and Suwada lines with no opposition 
worth mentioning. Kut fell automatically, the 
monitors steaming in and taking possession. The 
infantry had no time to bother about it. Kut 
had become a symbol only. 
So the infantry swung by Kut and on to taghdad. 
The cavalry and gunboats hunted the enemy 
northward, till he ruade a stand on the Diyaleh, 
a large stream entering the Tigris a few toiles below 
Baghdad. Very heavy fighting and losses had 
corne to the 3th Division, and the 7th Division 



INTRODUCTION 9 

would be the first to acknowlcdge that the honour 
of first entering Baghdad, for whatever it was 
worth, should bave fallen fo them. But, in spire 
of desperate attempts fo cross, they were held on 
the Diyaleh. The 7th Division therefore bridged 
the river lower down, and after two days of battle 
in a sandstorm, blind with thirstmfor the men 
had one water-bottle only for the two days-- 
captured Baghdad railway-station, and threw 
pickets across the river into Baghdad town. This 
was on March II. The I3th and I4th Divisions 
then crossed the Diyalch, and were in Baghdad 
almost as soon as any one from the 7th Division. 
The 7th and 3rd Indian Divisions passed by 
Baghdad on opposite sides, as they had passed 
by Kut, and engaged the enemy's rearguards at 
Mushaidiyeh and in thc Jebel Hamrin. They 
then concentrated again towards Baghdad. 
This book deals first with the April campaign 
as if affccted the right bank of the Tigris. Between 
Baghdad and Samarra was a stretch of eighty 
miles of railroad, the only completed portion, 
south of Mosul, of the Berlin-Baghdad Railway. 
If we could capture this the Turk would bave fo 
supply his troops from Mosul by the treacherous 
and shallow Tigris. The Samarra fighting, these 
railhead battles, was the last organized campaign 
which the Turk fought. Our First Corps, consisting 
of two Indian divisions, the 3rd and the 7th, 
operated against railhead ; while the Third Corps, 
consisting of the I3th Division, the only all-British 
division in Mesopotamia, and the I4th Indian 
Division, fought their way up the left bank. 
After Samarra fell the Turk could do nothing 



20 INTRODUCTION 

but collect small bodies of troops, which we attacked 
in detail, usually with success, and throughout 
1918, after Tekrit, always attacked with complete 
success (as we did at Ramadie in September, 1917, 
destroying the whole force). Ramadie, on the 
Euphrates, and Tekrit, on the Tigris, were the 
first of the campaigns of this last phase of the 
Mesopotamian War, campaigns that were glorified 
raids. At the rime of Tekrit, General Allenby 
settled for the Turk, once for all, the choice between 
Palestine and Mesopotamia. 
Our Tckrit campaign was a sympathetic attack, 
concurrent witla Allenby's great Gaza offensive. 
This campaign is the theme of the second portion 
of this book. 



BELED 
led of gladiolus glimmering through the wheat 
1Red flower of Vlour springing ai out feetl 
I)ark-flowered hyacinth mingling with the red 
I)ark flower of latience on the way w¢ tread l 
Scarlet of poppy waving o'er the grass 
Honour's bright flags along the road we passt 
Thorns that torment, and grassy spikes that flet, 
Thistles that all the fiery way beset ! 
These shall be theirs, when I)uty's day is sped; 
They shall lie down, the living and the dead. 

I. THE WAY TO BELED 

BAGHDAD fell on March II, 1917. The soldier's 
j oy was deepened by the belief that here his warfare 
was accomplished, his marching finished. Even 
when we went by the city, and fought battles on 
either bank, the 7th Indian Division at Mushaidiyeh 
(March 14) and the 3rd Indian, most disastrously,. 
in the foothills of the Jebel Hamrin (March 25) , 
this comfort was hot destroyed. These two hard 
actions were but the sweeping away of ants' nests 
from before a bouse; out position now secured, 
we should fall back, and rest in Baghdad. The 
Turk might try to turn us out; but that was a 



22 BELED 

very different affair, and it would be Inonths before 
he could even dream of an offensive. 
So in April the 7th Division had withdrawn to 
]3aghdad, "all except the 28th Brigade, who were 
at I3abi, a dozen Iniles up-strealn. At I3abi it was 
not yet desertthere was grass and wheat ; but 
the garden-belt and trees had finished. 
On the 3rd calne official news that Tennant, 
of the R.F.C., had landed alnong the Cossacks, 
and been tulnultuously welcolned; presently we 
heard that the Russians and ourselves had joined 
hands. This was towards the Persian border, 
on the left bank of the Tigris, where the I3th and 
I4th Divisions were operating. That force and 
ours, the 7th, were now to advance together on 
Salnarra; a new calnpaign was beginning, in 
which we took the right bank. 
A Mobile Column was forrned, under ]3rigadier- 
General Davies, as the spearhead of the 7th Division's 
thrust. It consisted of the 28th Infantry Brigade 
(2nd Leicestershires, 5Ist and 53rd Sikhs, 56th 
Rifles, and i36th Machine-Gun Colnpany), the 
9th Brigade, R.F.A. (less one battery), one section 
of the 524th ]3attery, R.F.A., a Light-Armoured 
Motor-Battery, the 32nd Lancers (less two 
squadrons), and a half-colnpany of Sappers and 
Miners ; an alnlnunition colulnn and alnbulances. 
Fritz--the enelny's airlnan--inspected us before 
we started. Then the Leicestershires, by twelve 
and eight Iniles, Inarched in two days to a point 
opposite Sindiyeh, on the Tigris. The Indian 
battalions cut across country to Sumaikchah, 
which lies inland. 
That day and night by Sindiyeh! "Infandum 



BELED 3 

jubes renovare dolorem.' The day was one of 
burning discomfort, spent in cracks and nullas, 
under blanket bivouacs. We had tramped, from 
dawn, through eight mlles of 'chivvy-dusters,' 
and out camp was now among them. These are 
a grass which crains the clothes and feet with 
maddening needles; once in they seemed there 
'for duration.' The soldier out East knows them 
for his worst foe on a match. Lest we should 
be obsessed with these, we were infested with 
sandflies and mosquitoes. But large black anis 
were the principal line in veÆmin. At dinner they 
swarmed over us. Man after man dropped his 
plate and leapt into a dervish-dance, frenziedly 
slapping his nose and ears. We tried fo eat standing; 
even so, we were festooned. Little Westlake, the 
• Cherub,' abandoned all hope of nourishment, and 
crept wretchedly into a clothes-pile. There was 
no sleep that night. 
The river tan beneath lofty bluffs; on the left 
bank was a far-stretching view of low, rich country, 
with palms and canals. Fritz visited us, and a 
monitor favoured us with some comically bad 
shooting. And after sundown came a moon, 
benignant, calm, in a cloudless heaven, looking 
down on men miserable with small vexations, 
which haply saved them from facing too much the 
deeper griefs which accompanied them. 
Next morning, Good Friday, we j oined the test 
of the column at Sumaikchah. The Cherub with 
his scouts went ahead fo find a road. All the field 
was jumping with grasshoppers, on which storks 
were feeding. Scattered bushes looked in the 
mirage like enemy patrols. We were escorted by 



9.6 BELED 

Fritz, whose kindly interest in our movements 
never flagged. We started late, at 6.5 ° a.m., 
and withont breakfast, the distance being nnder- 
estimated. A zigzagging course ruade the ioumey 
into over ten mlles, in dreadfnl heat; we were 
marching till past noon. When Sumaikchah came 
in sight, men fell out, exhausted, in bunches and 
groups. 
Though we were unmolested, the conntryside 
was full of eyes. Shortly afterwards an artillery 
oflïcer, bringing np remounts, sent a Scots sergeant 
ahead to Sumaikchah, with a strong escort, to 
bring back rations. The party was fired on by 
Buddus. The sergeant's report attained some faine ; 
deservedly, so I give it here: 
'We were fired on, sirrr.' 
' Did you tire back ?' 
'No, sirrr. I thocht it would bave enrrraged 
them. But I'd have ye know, sirrr, that it's 
haiÆÆÆdly safe to be aboot.' 
We came, says Xenophon, to ' a large and thickly 
populated city named Sittake.' His troopsencamped 
'near a large and beautifnl park, which was thick 
with all sorts of trees, at a distance of fifteen stades 
from the river. ' This description still holds true 
of Sumaikchah. The ancient irrigation channels 
are dry, and the town has shrnnken ; bnt it remains 
a large garden-village. Here were melons and 
oranges, fowls and turkeys, exorbitantly priced, 
of course; possibly Xenophon's troops got their 
goods more cheaply in the year 399 B.c. 
Sumaikchah is an oasis with eighty wells. The 

1 Anabasis, Book il., H.G. Dakyns' translation. The identification 
of Sumaikchah and Sittake is due to Major Kenneth Mason» R.E.» M.C. 



BELED 7 

water was full of salts. It was bad as xvater; it 
was execrable as tea. Many of the wells on the 
Baghdad-Samarra Railway have these natural 
salts. Every one who left Sumaikchah next morning 
was suffering from diarrhoea. Here again one 
remembers the Anabasis and the troublesome ex- 
perience xvhich the notes I read at school ascribed 
to poisonous honey gathered from the flowers of 
rhododendron pouticum. 
Out brief stay here was unlike anything we had 
known, except in our racing glimpse of the flowery 
approaches to Kut. The village had palms and 
rose bushes. A coarse hyacinth, found already 
at Mushaidiyeh, now seeding, grew along the railway 
and in the wheat. We camped amid green corn; 
round us were storksbills, very many, and a white 
orchis, slight and easily hidden, the saine orchis 
that I round afterwards in Palestine and in the 
Hollow Vale of Syria. A small poppy and a bright 
thistle set their flares of crimson and gold in the 
green; sowthistle and myosote freaked it with 
blue; a tall gladiolus, also tobe round later by 
the Aujeh and on Carmel, ruade pink clusters. 
Thus did flowers oveflay the fretting spikes of out 
road, and adorn and hide 'the coming bulk of 
Death.' 
Through Saturday we rested. Fritz came, of 
course ; and there was a little harmless sniping. 
The knowledge filtered in that fighting was again 
at hand. It was accepted without comment, with 
the soldier's well-known fatalism, the child of 
faith and despair. 'Every man thinks,' said one 
to me," I don't care who he is. t3ut we believe 
it's all right till our number's up. Take M., 



8 BELED 

for instance. When he was left out at Sannaiyat we 
all envied him; we thought we were for it. But 
we went through Sannaiyat; and M-- was 
the first of us tobe killed at Mushaidiyeh, his 
very first action, where we had hardly any casualties.' 
In the evening the rest of the division came up 
to take our place. Sunday, by old prescription, 
was the 7th Division's battle-day; next Sunday 
being Easter, if was not tobe supposed that so 
fair an occasion would be passed over. Accordingly, 
when I put in my services, I was told that the 
brigade would march before dawn, and that some 
scrapping was anticipated. The Turks were holding 
Beled Station, hall a dozen miles away in a straight 
line. Their main force was at Harbe, four mlles 
farther. The maps were no use, and distances 
had tobe guessed. ' The force against us,' observed 
the Brigade-Major, 'is somewhere between a 
hundred Turks and two guns, and four thousand 
Turks and thirty-two guns.' 'And if it's the four 
thousand and thirty-two guns ?' 'Then we shall 
sit tight, and scream for help,' he answered 
delightedly. 
2. THE ACTION FOR BELED 
Davies's Column were away before breakfast. 
In the dira light we moved through wet fields of 
some kind of globe-seeded plant, abundantly 
variegated with gladiolus and hyacinth. Every 
one was suffering from our course of Sumaikchah 
waters, and progress was slow. Splashing through 
the marshes, we came to undulating upland, long, 
steady slopes, pebble-strewn and with pockets of 
grass and poppies. The rnorning winds made 



BELED 2 9 

these uplands exceedingly beautiful. Colonel 
Knatchbull said, the week he died, that what he 
most remembered from Beled were the flowers 
through which we marched to battle. As we 
approached them, the ruffling wind laid its hand 
on the grasses, and they became emerald waves, 
a green spray of blades tossing and flashing in the 
full sunlight. As we passed, the saine wind bowed 
them before it, and they were a shining, silken 
cloth. The poppies were a laxger sort than those 
in the wheatfields, and of a very glorious crimson. 
In among the grasses was yellow coltsfoot ; among 
the pebbles were sowthistle, mignonette, pink 
bindweed, and great patches of storksbill. Many 
noted the beauty of these flowers, a scene so un- 
Mesopotamian in its brightness. We were tasting 
of the joy and life of springtide in happier latitudes, 
a wine long praetermitted to our lips ; and among 
us were those who would hot drink of this wine 
again till they drank it new in their Father's King- 
dom. After Beled we saw no more flowers. 
With the first line was my friend Private W 
As we pushed forward he looked up, as his custom 
was, for a 'message.' Perchance, with so many 
fears and hopes stirring, there was some buzzing 
along the heavenly wires; but the only word he 
could get was this one, 'Because.' He puzzled 
upon it, till the whole flashed on his brain--' Because 
Thy lovingkindness is better than life, my lips 
shall praise Thee.' Thenceforward he went his 
ways content ; neither can any man bave gathered 
greater pleasure from the beauty of the morning 
and those unwonted flowers than this Plymouth 
Brother, a gardener by profession, and, as I found 



30 BELED 

in later days, amid the rich deep meadows of the 
Holy Land, a passionate lover of all wild plants. 
The left flank was guarded by one section of 
machine-gunners and one section of the 32nd 
Lancers. Next to them moved the Leicestershires. 
Some time after 8 a.m. rifle-fire on out left told us 
that the Cherub's scouts were in touch with enemy 
patrols. About 9.3o the first shell came, out 
advanced guard being some rive thousand yards 
from Beled Station. 
There were frequent halts, while out few cavalry 
reconnoitred. Then we passed into a deep broad 
nulla between two ancient earth-walls. All this 
terrain had been a network of canals and cultiva- 
tion. Shrapnel was bursting in out front. We 
filed out, at the left, on to a plain. Half a toile 
ahead was the nearer curve of a hilly ground. The 
main range tan in a Carpathian-like sweep across 
our front, from west to east; turned, and went 
across out front again. Beyond this was Beled 
Station, lying at the point of a wide fork of hills, 
the left prong a good mlle away, but the right 
bending almost up to it. From the forking to 
the station was a broken plain of two thousand 
yards. This plain had to be overcome, with such 
assistance as the hills gave. The hills were pretty 
uniform in height, and nowhere above thirty feet. 
The railway cut directly through the main range, 
giving the enemy a field of tire for his machine-guns. 
The range, with its double fold across out front, 
gave the artillery cover, and enabled us to conceal 
the smallness of out force; and on both sides of 
the station it broke into a wilderness of little knobs 
and hollows, by which we might creep up. 



BELED 3 r 

The shrapnel was uncomfortably close as we 
crossed to the first sweep of hilly ground. But 
it was bursting high, and no casualties occurred. 
We halted behind the hills, and the artillery left 
their wagons, taking their guns into position where 
the range curved north-westerly. Here two four- 
g-un batteries put up a slow and not heavy bombard- 
ment on the station. We waited and xvatched the 
shrapnel bursting rive hundred yards to out right. 
About noon the Leicestershires were ordered to 
support the 53rd and 5Ist Sikhs in an attack on 
the station. (The 56th Rifles were in reserve 
throughout the action.) D Company was to more 
on the left of the railvay as a flank-guard, and 
went forward under Captain Creagh. 
I must now speak of Second-Lieutenant Fowke, 
out tallest subaltern. In place of the orthodox 
shade of khaki he wore a reddish-brown shooting- 
jacket, which shimmered like bright silk if 
there vas any sun. Nevertheless he was the only 
Leicestershire subaltern who went through all 
out battles unwounded. Of his cheerfulness and 
courage, his wit, and the love with xvhich his col- 
leagues and his men regarded him, the reader will 
learn. Fowke was detached with his platoon to 
act on out extreme left in co-operation with our 
handful of Indian cavalry. The operation was an 
undesirable one, to advance into a maze of tiny hills, 
held by an enemy of unknown strength; and as 
Fowke moved off I remembered the Sieur de Join- 
ville's Memoirs and a passage mentioned between 
us the previous day. So, as I wished him good 
luck, I said, 'Be of good cheer, seneschal, for we 
shall yet talk over this day in the ladies' bowers.' 



32 BELED 

Once upon a rime Fowke had read for Holy Orders, 
a fact which contributed not a little to the astonish- 
ment and delight with which he was regarded. 
He smiled gravely in answer to me, and moved on. 
But after the scrap he told me that he wished just 
then that he had continued in his first vocation 
and bccome a padre. 
Behind D Company moved Charles Copeman, 
O.C. bombers, and a section of machine-gunners 
under Lieutenant Service. The test of the machine- 
gunners followed up along the railway. 
We who remained crossed the ridge and advanced 
in artillery formation up the right side of the 
railway. The Sikhs slipped away into the hills 
fo out right. 
Readers of Quentin Durward dll remember the 
two hangmen of Louis XI, the one tall, lean, and 
solemn; the other short, fat, and jolly. Wilson, 
the Leicestershires' doctor, had two most excellent 
assistants who occupied much the saine positions. 
But Sergeant Whitehead, who was short, went his 
sombre way with a gravity that never veakened 
into a smile; while Dobson, an ex-miner, aged 
forty-seven, who had deceived the recruiting people 
most shamelessly and enlisted as under thirty, 
took life jovially and generally humorously. He 
was never without his pipe. He enjoyed a large 
medical practice in the regiment, unofficial and 
unpaid, and he heid strong opinions, observing 
ffequently that he 'didn't hold with' a thing. 
I remember well the annoyance of \¥ilson's successor 
on heafing that Dobson ' didn't hold with ' inocula- 
tion, which just then was occupying most of the 
medical officer's time. Another thing that Dobson 



BELED 33 

' didn't hold with' was the modern notion that 
some diseases were infectious. Because of his 
years and medical knowledge, this kindly, never- 
wearied old hero was always known by the regiment 
as ' Mester Dobson.' I shall follow their example, 
and so call him henceforth. 
I also was of Wilson's entourage, and went 
with him accordingly. Before we crossed the first 
ridge we picked up a man prostrate with heat- 
stroke ; we left him under a culvert, in charge of 
John, Wilson's Indian orderly. 
leanwhile D Company found the hills on our 
left strongly held. Every slope was sown with 
shallow trenches, earth-scars which held six or 
seven Turks, and snipers caused us casualties. 
Lieutenant-Colonel Knatchbull, learning this, on 
his own initiative swung round B and C Companies 
across the railway to support D. Wilson now came 
upon his first casualty, a signaller hit in the spine. 
We bandaged him, and left him in a shallow nulla, 
sheltered from the bullets flying over. He died 
next day. 
B and C Companies, crossing the railway, pushed 
up a long narrow nulla to the hills where D were 
engaged. Service's machine-guns put up a covering 
tire. 
The attack had now developed along two dis- 
tinct lines, and on the railway itself we had no 
troops. The enemy presently put down a barrage 
of shrapnel ail the right length of the line, where 
he had seen our men cross, of which barrage every 
shell during two hours was wasted. As Wilson 
dropped down the embankment on our left side of 
the railway, we round machine-gunners sheltering 
C 



34 BELED 

in a quarry, awaiting orders. ' It's unhealthy over 
there,' said their O.C., Lieutenant Sanderson. 
'The Turks have a machine-gun on it.' How- 
ever, there was a lull as we crossed to the nulla, 
and only a very few bullets went by. In the nulla 
Wilson set up his aid-post, sticking a second flag 
above the railway, for the solitary company that 
was supporting the Sikhs' attack. Wounded began 
fo corne in, the first cases being hot bad ones. 
'Give you rive rupees for that wound, sergeant,' 
said Mester Dobson. 'You can't bave if for 
seventy-five,' said Sergeant Hayes, as he limped off 
in search of the ambulances, smiling happily. 
Perhaps nothing will stir the unborn generations 
to greater pity than this knowledge, that for youth 
in our generation wounds and bodily hurt were 
a luxury. 
But cases soon came in of men badly hit, in much 
pain. With them was borne a dead man, Sergeant 
Lawrence, D.C.M., a quiet and much-liked man. 
My Plymouth Brother friend came also, and sat 
«aside, saying he could wait, as a stretcher-case was 
following him. As the doctor saw to that broken 
body, my riend rested his wounded leg, and we had 
some talk. The long marches, the nights of little 
sleep, and the unsheltered days of heat and toil and 
wearied waiting for evening had tired him out. ' I 
want rest,' he said, ' and I think the Lord knows it, 
and bas sent rest along.' All our men were brave 
and cheerful, but no more cheerful hero limped 
off through the bullets than my calm and gentle 
friend. 
Wilson went out for a few minutes to see a man in 
the second line, hit in the groin. When he returned 



BELED 35 

we had some cruelly broken cases in, and that 
nulla saw a deal of pain, and grew stale with the 
smell of blood. A fair number of bullets flew over, 
and there was the occasional swish of a machine- 
gun. Mules were killed far back in the second line, 
and men hit. But the nulla was safe. The mis- 
guided Turk shelled and machine-gunned the ernpty 
space beyond the railway. 
Clonel Knatchbull came in and assured Wilson 
that the nulla was the best and rnost central place 
for the aid-post. He searched the Iront with his 
glasses. Then he said, 'Marner's dead." 
The Leicestershires' attack was held up in the 
hills. They asked for support, but none was avail- 
able. They were told to advance as far as they 
could, and then hold their line till help could corne. 
The hills were thick with excellent positions. Every 
fold and dip was utilized by a scattered and nurner- 
ous foe, to whom the ragged ground was like a cloak 
of invisibility. No artillery help could be given. 
We could only seize the ground's advantage and 
rnake it serve as help to the attack as well as to the 
defence. It was here that Marner fell. C Cornpany 
was sheltering in an ancient canal. Seeing a man 
fall, Captain Hasted called out, ' Keep your heads 
down.' Alrnost at that moment Marner looked 
over, having spotted a sniper who was vexing us, 
and fell dead at Grant-Anderson's feet. Though 
in falling he brushed against Hasted, the latter 
could hOt pause to see who it was ; nor did he know 
till he cried out, a minute later, that Marner was to 
more round the flank of the position immediately 
before them. Some two hundred yards farther on 
Second-Lieutenant 0tter was struck by a bullet 



36 BELED 

which went through both left arm and body, a bad 
but not fatal wound. But a gracious thought came 
to the Turkish gunners. Seeing us without artillery 
support from our own guns, they put two rounds 
of shrapnel over, the only shells on these ridges 
during the fight. These burst directly on the 
Turkish snipers, who did not wait for the hint to be 
repeated, but went. The Leicestershires topped 
the last ridge, and were on the plain before the 
station. Fowke and Service remained to guard the 
left flank, while Hasted went forward with the 
bayonet to clear the hills to the left. Fowke, watch- 
ing benevolently the evolutions of certain horsemen 
on his left, received a message from out cavalry, 
' Those are Arabs on your lcft, and are hostile to 
you.' 
And now it would have meant a bloody advance 
for A and ]3 Companies against those trenches in the 
open. But the Turks, held by the Leicestershires' 
strong steadyattack, had given insufficient attention 
to the movement threatening their left. The two 
Sikh rcgiments, though checked and held from rime 
to rime by rifle and machine-gun tire, used the 
broken ground with extraordinary skill. Their 
experience on the Afghan frontier had trained them 
for iust such work as this. Rising ground was used 
as positions for covering tire, and every knoll and 
hummock became a shoulder to lift the force along. 
Their supporting battery had located the enemy's 
gun-positions, and kept down his tire. One gun- 
team bolted, and the crew were seen getting the gun 
away by hand and losing in the effort. The Sikhs 
rushed a low bill, which had long checked them, and 
its garrison of one Offlcer and twenty-five men 



BELED 37 

surrendered. This attack was led by the well-known 
' Boomer ' Barrett, colonel of the 5Ist. He slapped 
the nearest prisoner on the back and bellowed 
' Shabash.'l The enemy's resistance crumbled 
rapidly. A breach had been ruade in his defence, 
and the Sikhs poured through. They ruade two 
thousand yards, and did a swift left-turn. The 
enemy on their right slipped off, but the Turks in 
the trenches covering the station had left things too 
late. The 5Ist drove the foe belote them to the 
north of the station, and the 53rd rushed the station 
itself, capturing eight officers and a hundred and 
thirty-five men, with two machine-guns. This was 
about 3 p.m. 
Wilson now left his aid-post, and we came up the 
line. All the way the Turk was shelling the railway, 
but, by that fortunate defect of observation con- 
spicuous throughout, shelling out right exclusively, 
for hot a shell came on the left. We passed the 
enemy's trenches and rifle-pits, which scarred some 
six or seven hundred yards of space before the 
station ; there were rifles leaning against the walls, 
with bayonets fixed. 
The station had excellent water, a great attraction 
after the filthy wells of Sumaikchah. Noone heeded 
that the Turk was dropping shells two thousand yards 
out side of the station. 'He always does that. 
It's a sort of rearguard business. It's the ammuni- 
tion he can't get away. He'll be moving his guns 
quickly enough when we get ours on to them.' But, 
as the official report afterwards observed, wffh just 
annoyance at the enemy's refusal to recognize that 
the action was finished : ' During the whole of the 
 ' Well done' (Hindustani). 



38 BELED 

afternoon and till dusk the enemy continued to 
shell the captured position with surprising intensity, 
considering what had been heard of his shortage 
in gun-ammunition.' What happened, in Iuller 
detail, was this. 
Beled Station was like the gate of Heaven. With 
the exception of the Leicestershires, still in the field, 
all the great and good were gathered there. The 
first I saw was that genial philosopher, Captain 
Newitt, of the 53rd Sikhs, sitting imperturbable on 
a fallen wall and smoking the pipe without which 
he has never been seen. Not Marius amid Carthage 
ruins was more careless of the desolation around 
him. With hin was Culverwell, adjutant of the 
saine battalion. They hailed me with joyous 
affection, and we drank the waters and swapped 
the news. General Davies came upandasked, « Have 
the Leicesters taken any prisoners ?' I told him 
'No.' He seemed disappointed; then added, 
' We've taken over two hundred prisoners, includ- 
ing nine oflïcers and three machine-guns. What 
were your casualties ? ' ' About twenty, sir,' I said. 
'The 53rd have had thirteen men wounded,' said 
the ]3rigade-Major. ' Fifty will cover the casualties 
for the whole brigade. It's been a most successful 
action.' 
Marner's loss was greatly felt. 'I hear you've 
lost a good oflïcer,' said the Brigadier; and the 
Brigade-Major added, 'He was the brigade's great 
stand-by for maps and drawings. I don't know how 
we can replace him.' 
Then for a moment we fell to jape and jesting ; 
foolishly, for the Gods are always listening, and the 
Desert-Gods bave long ears. 'You're last frorn 



BELED 39 

school,' said Brigade-Major McLeod. 'You know 
Napier's message--" Peccavi, I have Sind." Give 
me a wire for Corps, " I bave B-led."' 
'" Saguinevi,"'I said, 'if such a verb exists. Let's 
call it very late Latin.' 
As we spoke, the enemy shortened his range; 
a shell skimmed the roof, and burst at the embank- 
ment bottom, directly under two Sikhs who were 
cooking. It hurled one man into the air and the 
other to one side. A great dust went up. Before 
most people realized what had happened, Wilson 
and Stones were carrying the men up the bank. 
This was an extremely brave deed, for a second shell 
was certain, and, as a matter of fact, a second and a 
third camejust as theyhad reached ourwall. Stones, 
like many medical officers, was a missionary ; he had 
corne from West Africa. He had one of the noblest 
faces I ever saw ; a very gentle and cou.rteous man, 
fearless and with eager eyes. He served with the 
56th Rifles. 
One of the stricken men was a mass of bleeding 
ribbons, the top of his head blown off. A cloth 
was drawn over his face ; he was dead. The other 
had his left leg torn off below the knee, his right heel 
blown away, and wounds in his head and stomach. 
He died that evening. Now he lay with scarcely a 
moan, while Sikhs gathered round and gave such 
consolation as was possible, an austere, brave 
group. 
The Turkish gunners now concentrated on the 
station and its approaches. Our cavalry rode 
through the Leicestershires' lines as those warriors 
moved up to an advanced line of defence. They 
brought a wounded prisoner. The enemy instantly 



4 BELED 

shrapnelled them, and they scattered, the prisoner, 
for all his broken leg, keeping his seat exceilently 
andriding surprisinglyIast. Luck had been w:,th the 
battalion this day, and it now remained with them. 
Many had rifles hit. Fowke, who was a magnet for 
bullets, had his right shoulder's star flattened. 
But there were no casualties. The enemy, growing 
vindictive, chased small bodies of even three or four 
with shrapnel. He continued to pelt the station, 
throwing at least two hundred rounds on it in two 
hours. Mules and horses were hit, and many men. 
Isolated men, holding horses in the open, had a bad 
rime. Several shells landed on the roof, and had 
there been against us the huge guns of other fronts 
the station would bave gone up in dust. When I 
saw it again, a month later, I realized what a rough 
house that tiny spot had experienced. Unexploded 
shells were still in the walls, and on the inner wall of 
the side that had sheltered me I counted over twenty 
direct hits. Fortunately the 5.9's were hot in action 
this day, and every station on the Baghdad-Samarra 
line has been built as a fortress, massively. By 
incredible luck no shell came through the doorless 
»penings and rooms behind us; they struck the 
inner wall and roof. But the water-station behind 
us gave very poor shelter to the men there. Shells 
burst on the railway, and sent a sheet of smoke and 
rubble before them. Two of our guns came up to the 
hills that had covered the Sikhs' advance, but fired 
very few shells, failing to find a target. The enemy 
saw their flashes, and fired back without effect. 
Then Fritz came and hovered above our huddled 
crowd with low, deliberate circles. We took it for 
granted he xvould bomb us, or, at kindest, spot for 



BELED 43 

his guns. But he just hung over us, and then went 
fo look for our batteries. 
Before this lcLeod offered me a cup of tea. We 
drank it in a tin shed a few yards south of the station. 
I wanted the tea horribly, but fer it was ' hairrdly 
safe to be aboot.' This feelingwas shared, for when 
the staff-captain and signalling-officer joined us, 
the latter asked, ' Isn't this spot a bit unhealthy, 
sir?' 'Oh, no,' said NcLeod. 'It's quite sale 
from splinters, and it's no use bothering about a 
direct hit.' As I had seenhigh explosive burst pretty 
well all round, and both windows were smashed of 
every inch of glass, I could not quite share this con- 
fidence that the hut was splinter-proof. But I 
required that tea. If was very good tea. Had if 
been shaving water, it would have gone cold at once. 
But being tea which I wished to drink quickly, if 
remained af boiling-point and declined to be mollified 
with milk. However, no more H.E.  came our 
way, only shrapnel. 
NcLeod said we had had at least two thousand 
Turks against us and af least twelve guns. During 
the action the enemy reinforced the position from his 
main one af Harbe. He must have had other 
casualties in addition fo our prisoners. Our left 
wing, when they occupied the hills, saw four or rive 
hundred Turks ' skirr away' in one body, and the 
machine-gunners round a target. Raiding-parties 
of Arabs hung on our flanks throughout the day, and 
increased the force against us, af any rate 
numerically. 
The day had been cloudy and comparatively 
cool, and an exquisite evening crowned it. With 
 High explosive. 



44 BELED 

dusk I left the station, where wounded Turks were 
groaning and shells bursting, and sought the hills. 
The shrapnel was dying down, and, once off the 
plain, all was quiet. The scene here was one of 
great loveliness. The Dujail, a narrow canal from 
the Tigris, tan swiftly with water of delightful cold- 
ness and sweetness. The canal was fringed with 
flowers, poppies, Inarguerites, and cainpions; the 
innuinerable folds and hollows were elnerald-green. 
C Colnpany were holding the extreine left of out 
picket-line. Here I round Hasted, Hall, Fisher, 
and Charles Copelnan. We held a dry, very deep 
irrigation-canal, running at right angles to the 
Dujail. There were no shells, and we could listen 
colnposedly to the last of the shrapnel away on the 
right. The full inoon presently flooded the hills 
with enchantlnent. But our night was broken by 
Arab raids. Twice these robbers of the dead and 
wounded tried to rush us. The first party prob- 
ably escaped in the bushes, but the second suffered 
casualties. In the evening Arabs had raided out 
aid-post, wounding the attendant, who escaped with 
difficulty. Fortunately there was none but dead 
there ; these they stripped, cutting off one man's 
finger for the ring on it. All night long they prowled 
the battlefield and dug up our buried dead. For 
which, retribution caine next day. 
Fisher and I scraped a hole in our canal, and tried 
to sleep. But a cold wind sneaked about the nulla, 
and the hours dragged past with extrelne discolnfort. 
No one had blanket or overcoat, and inost were in 
shorts. At davn we had ten Ininutes' notice to 
rejoin the rest of the regiinent behind the station. 
In that ten Ininutes I had opportunity to adinire 



BELED . 45 

the soldier-man's resourcefulness. One of the picket, 
thrusting his hand deep into one of the countless 
holes in our canal-wall, found two tiny eggs. 
Raising fat in some fashion--probably a candle-end 
--he had fried eggs for breakfast before we moved. 
The eggs were presumed to be grouse-eggs. Nore 
likely they were .bee-eater's, or may have been 
snake's or lizard's. These canals are haunted by 
huge monitors, and there must be tortoises in the 
Dujail. However, eggs were round, and eggs were 
eaten. 
On picket the men's talk was interesting to hear. 
They were regardless of the discomfort they had 
known so long ; and when his turn came to watch, 
every man was eager to lend his waterproof sheet to 
Fisher and me, who had only our rhin khaki. 
iXlarner's death had gone deep. ' I hear iXIr. iXIarner's 
dead,' said a voice. ' I'm sorry fo hear that,' said 
another; 'he was a nice feller.' 'He was a good 
feller an' a'," said a third. 'He was more like a 
brother to me than an officer,' his platoon-sergeant 
told me. These were brief tributes to an able and 
conscientious man, but they sufficed. Af Sumaik- 
chah our bivvies had been side by side, where the 
green was most glowing, and we had rejoiced 
together in that light and colour. 
Beled Station was a small action, scarcely bigger 
than those dignified in the Boer War with the name 
of battles. Our casualties were little over a hundred 
for the whole day, and more than half of these were 
incurred in the station itself. The Leicestershires 
lost twenty, three killed among them; several of 
the wounded dihd later. But the action attained 
considerable fame locally as a model of a successful 



46 BELED 

little battle. Our losses vere mir, aculously slight. 
But for the very great skill with which the two 
separate attacks were organized, and the constant 
alertness which exploited every one of the ground's 
endless irregularities, our losses must have been 
many times heavier. The advance was conducted 
with caution and the utmost economy of lire ; but 
the moment a breach vas effected or an opportunity 
offered, then there was a lightning blow and a swift 
push forward. Thus the enemy in the station were 
trapped before they realized that their retreat was 
threatened. The careless trooping together at the 
station was the one regrettable thing, and it cost us 
dear. The water of 13eled Station was like the 
water brought to David from 13ethlehem. 
For the action itself, a small force advanced 
steadily throughout the day, with unreliable maps, 
over ten toiles of broken country, which was 
admirably furnished with posts of defence, vhich 
posts they seized and turned into advantages for 
attack. They captured a strong position and over 
two hundred prisoners, three machine-guns, and 
some hundreds of rifles with less than hall the 
casualties their numerically superior foe sustained. 
Since a small battle fs an epitome of a large one, 
and far easier to see in detail, even this lengthy 
account may have justification. The Army Com- 
mander's opinion vas shown not alone by his 
congratulatory message, but by the immediate 
honours awarded. To the Leicestershires fell one 
Military Cross' and four Military Medals, one of 
the latter going to Sergeant Batten, Marner's 
platoon-sergeant. The water-tank leans against 

t Westlake's. See next chapter, 



BELED 47 

the station no longer, and they bave repaired the 
crumbled walls. But the cracks and fissures in 
the great fort lift eloquent witness to the way 
both armies desired it, and the quiet, beautiful 
hills carry their scars also. 

The rushing brook, the silken grass and pride 
Of poppies burning red where Marner died, 
Unchanged i and in the station still, as then, 
The water that was bought with blood of men. 



II 

HARBE 

t3ehold, as may unworthiness define, 
A little touch of Harry in the night. 
Iing Henry V. 

If I thought Hell was vorse than Mesopotamia, I'd be a good 
man.Sayings o[ Fowhe. 

NEXl" morning was one of leisure. The I9th 
Brigade took up our line, and we bivouacked before 
the station. We fed and washed and slept. The 
enemy put a few shells on to the i9th Brigade, 
doing no damage, and when that Brigade pushed 
on to Harbe he fell back on his strong lines at 
Istabulat, another four mlles. The I9th Brigade, 
with only one or two men wounded, seized Harbe 
and twenty-four railway-trucks, which were of 
great assistance presently, when the mules drew 
them along the track with ammunition for the 
assault on Istabulat. 
In the afternoon the 2Sth Brigade followed to 
Harbe. The heat was considerable, but the journey 
was short. Beyond the river plunging shells told 
us that our troops were pushing up both banks of 
the Tigris simultaneously. 
The 2ist Brigade took over Beled. With them 
remained the Cherub, wielding for one day the 
flaming sword of retribution. Arabs had desecrated 
our graves as they always did, and had stripped 
48 



HARBE 49 

our dead. The Cherub put the bodies back and 
dug several dummy graves, bi these last he put 
Mills bombs; removing the pin, he held each 
bomb down as the earth was delicately piled over. 
The deed called for great nerve; he could feel 
the bomb quick to jump under his finger's pressure. 
Arabs watched impudently, sniping his party from 
a few hundred yards away. Neither did they let 
him get more than a quarter of a toile away, when 
he had finished, before they flocked down. The 
Cherub marie his way to the station, and watched, 
as a boy watches a bird-trap. The Arabs fcll 
to scooping out the soil badger-fashion with their 
hands. There was all explosion, and the earth 
shot up in a fountain of clods. The robbers ran, 
but returned immediately and carried off two of 
their number, casualties. Then they remained 
to dig. Colonel Leslie, commanding the 2Ist 
Brigade, had watched from Beled Station with 
enthusiasm, and he now turned a machine-gun 
on them. The Cherub, returning to the scene of 
his labours, found that the Arabs had dug two feet 
deeper than his original grave, breaking up the 
stiff ground with their fingers. To these desperate 
people a piece of cloth seemed cheap at the cost 
of two dead or wounded. 
From first to last nothing moved deeper anger 
than their constant exhumation of our dead, and 
murder, for robbery's sake, of the wounded or 
isolated. Major Harley, A.P.M. of Baghdad in 
later days, learnt to admire the ability of the Arabs, 
whose brief Golden Age, when Abbasids ruled, so 
far outshone contemporary Europe. ,Vhen he 
pressed them on their ghoul-like ways, they replied, 
D 



50 HARBE 

'You ]3ritish are so foolish. ¥ou bury the dead 
with the clothes. The dead do hot need clothes, 
and we do.' The logic of this does hot carry far. 
To them, as Mussulmans, graves were sacrosanct 
to a unique degree; a suspicion of disrespect on 
our part would rouse the vhole of Islam to flaming 
wrath. They were criminals, by their own ethos, 
when they desecrated our dead. Moreover, they 
murdered whenever they could, in the cruellest 
and beastliest fashion. The marvel is, our actions 
of rcrisal were so rare. Apart from this of the 
Cherub's, only two came within my personal 
knowledge. Of these two cases, one I and nearly 
the whole division considered savage and unjustifi- 
able, which was also the otîïcial view. It was the 
act of a very young subaltern, mistakenly inter- 
preting an order. In the other case an Arab was 
caught red-handed, lurking in a ditch on our line 
of march, with one of their loaded knobkerries 
for any straggler. I do hot know what happened, 
but have no doubt that he was shot. 
It cannot be said that they acted for patriotic 
motives, as the Spanish guerrillas against Napoleon's 
troops. I remember an article I by Sir William 
Willcocks dealing with his experiences before the 
war, in which he tells how he and a friend went 
ashore from a steamer on the Tigris. An Arab 
calmly dropped on one knee and took aire at the 
Englishmen, as if the latter were gazelles or part- 
ridges. He missed, and they followed him into 
his village, where they asked him why he had fired. 
The man answered that he did it in self-defence, 

t, Two and a Hall Years in Mesopotamia,' Bladewood's Magazine. 
Match, i916. 



HARBE 5 x 

for the others had fired first. 'That,' said the 
Englishmen, 'is impossible, for you see we are 
unarmed.' Hearing this, the village rushed on 
them and robbed them of their valuables. Yet one 
of them was an ofïacial high in Government service. 
The other side of the shield, as it affected ]3rother 
Buddu, was shown next day at Harbe. At dawn 
three men and four women were round in the 
middle of the I9th Brigade's camp, outside General 
Peebles' tent, wailing. The women said their 
husbands had been bayoneted and mutilated by 
Turks a fortnight belote, and buried here. This 
story proved true. The women dug up and bore 
off the decomposing fragments for decent burial. 
The Buddu was an alien in his own land, loathed 
and oppressed by the Turk. In his turn he robbed 
and slew as chance offered. He pursued the chase 
for the pelt, and went after human lire as out more 
civilized race go after buck. 
About this time the Bishop of Nagpur was on 
his second visit from India. His see was usually 
mispronounced as Nankipoo. He was following us 
up to consecrate the graves of out battlefields. 
Great delight was given by the thought that West- 
lake's still unexploded bombs would receive conse- 
cration also for any retributive work that awaited 
them. And we brooded over the suggestion that 
the good Bishop might find, even in Mesopotamia, 
Elijah's way to heaven, fiery-chariot-wise. 
Out new camp was amid mounds and ruins. 
We round green coins, pottery fragments, and 
shells with very lovely mother-of-pearl. The 
Dujail tan near by, and ruade a green streak through 
an arid waste. The whole landscape seemed one 



Sa HARBE 

dust-heap, sand and rubbish. But by the brook 
were poppies, marguerites, delicate pink campions, 
wheat and barley growing as weeds of former 
cultivation, and thickets of blue-flowered liquorice. 
There were many thorns, especially a squat shrub 
with white papery globes. A large and particularly 
fleshy broom-rape, recently flowering, festered 
unpleasantly everywhere. 
April was well on, and the sun gained power 
daily. The camp had a thousnd discomforts. 
We lay under bivvies formed of a blanket, supported 
on a rifle and held down uncertainly by stones. 
Blinding dust-storms careered over the desert. 
These djinns, with their whirling sand-robes, would 
swoop down and whisk the poor shelters away. 
If the ccmrts above take note of blasphemy under 
such provocation, the Recording Angel's office 
was hard worked these days. One wonld be 
reading a letter, already wretched enough with 
heat and flies, and suddenly you would be fighting 
for breath and sight in a maelstrom of dirt, in- 
describably filthy dirt, whilst your papers flew up 
twenty feet and your rifle hit you cruelly over 
the head. As a Marian martyr observed to an 
enthusiast who thrust a blazing furze-bush into 
his face, ' Friend, have I hot harm enough ? nat 
need of that ? ' One storm at Harbe blew all night, 
having ruade day intolerable and meals out of the 
question. As Fowke curled himself miserably 
under his blanket for the night, I heard him deliver 
himself of the opinion quoted at the head of tlis 
chapter. 
Flies may be taken for granted. They swarm 
in these vile relics of old habitation. Moreover, 



HARBE 53 

there had been a Turkish camp at hand. But 
snakes and scorpions were found also almost hourly. 
The snakes were small asps; the scorpions were 
small also, but sufficiently painful. My barman 
was consulned with curiosity as to what a scorpion 
was like ; he had ' heard tell of them ' in Gallipoli. 
The listening Gods took account of his desire, and 
he was mildly stung the day we left. 
We spent the best part of a fortnight at Harbe. 
Morning and evening were enlivened by regular 
hates. So we had to dig trenches. But there 
were more melnorable happenings at Harbe than 
the discolnforts. Hebden returned with stores 
of sorts from Baghdad. Two new subalterns, 
Sowter and Keely, came. On Tuesday Hall's 
M.C. for Sannaiyat was announced. We celebrated 
this with grateful hymn far into night. Thursday 
brought the Cherub's M.C., another very popular 
honour, and we sang again, and the mules frorn 
their mess sang a chorus back, as belote. 
When as at dusk our Mess carouse, 
Vith catches strong arid brave, 
The mules their tuneful hearts arouse, 
And answer stave for stave. 
'Dumb nature' breaks in festive noise, 
1Remembering in this East 
The mystic bond which knits the ]oys 
Of righteous man and beast. 
Then pass the flowing bowl about-- 
Our stores bave corne to-day-- 
And let the youngest cal)tain shout, 
And let the asses bray. 
The thorny trudge awhile forger, 
And foeman's waiting hostl 
To-morrow bomb and bayonet-- 
To-night we keep the toast | 



54 tIARBE 

These light-hearted evenings seemed, even then, 
sacramental. We were waiting while the Third 
Corps and the cavalry cleared the other bank of the 
Tigris, level with us. On the I9th the river was 
bridged at Sinijah, which ruade close touch between 
the two corps possible and passage of men and guns. 
About the saine time the cavalry captured twelve 
hundred and fifty Turks on the Shat-el-Adhaim. 
Out wait was necessary. But we knew the enemy 
was terribly entrenched less than six toiles away, 
and that out sternest fight since Sannaiyat was 
preparing. 'This will be a full-dress affair, with 
the corps artillery,' I was told. Some of my 
comrades were under twenty; others, like Fowke 
and Grant-Anderson, were men of ripe age and 
experience in many lands. But all had aged in 
spirit. Hall, though his years were only nineteen, 
had grown since Sannaiyat into a man, responsi- 
bility touching his old gaiety with power. So we 
waited on this beach of conflict. 
One evening stands out by its beauty and un- 
conscious greatness. It happened thus. Remember 
how young many were, and it is small wonder if 
depression came at times. After the trying trench 
warfare beIore Kut had corne the rush to Baghdad, 
a period of strain and tremendous effort. We 
had been fighting and marching continuously 
for many weeks, with every discomfort and over 
a cursed monotonous plain, without even the 
palliation of fairly regular mails. When men 
have been' going over the top ' repeatedly, emerging 
always with comrades gone, the nerves give way. 
We longed to be at that Istabulat position. Yet 
here we had to wait while Cailley's Column fought 



HARBE 55 

level with us, and day by day those sullen lines 
were strengthening. We had barely six thousand 
men to throw at them. So one night talk became 
discontented, and some one wished some reinforce- 
ment could be with us from the immense armies 
which out papers bragged were being trained at 
home. Then another--G. A. or Fowke--replied: 

Oh that we now had here 
But one ten thousand of those rnen in England 
That do no work to-day ! 

Swiftly that immortal scene, of the English spirit 
facing great odds invincibly, followed, passage 
racing after passage. 

God's willl I pray thee, wish not one man more l 

It was an electric spark. I never heard poetry, 
or literature at all, mentioned save this once. But 
ail were eager and speaking, for ail had read 
Henry V. \Vhen the lines were reached, 

1Rather proclaim if, Westmorland, through my host, 
That he vhich hath no stomach fo this fight, 
Let him depart, 

laughter cleansed every spirit present of fear, and 
the shadow oi fear, misgiving. Nothing less grimly 
humorous than the notion of such an offer being 
made now, or of the alleged consequences of such 
an offer, in the instant streaming away of all His 
Majesty's Forces in Mesopotamia, could have made 
so complete a purgation. Comedy took upon 
herself the office of Tragedy. \Vhen voices could 
fise above the laughter, they went on: 



56 HARBE 

His passport shall be made, 
And crowns for convoy put into his purse. 

'Movement-orders down the line and ration- 
indents,' was the emendation. 

We would hOt die in that man's company 
That iears his fellowship to die with us. 

And Fowke's voice towered to an ecstasy of sarcasm 
as he assured his unbelieving hearers that 

Gentlemen in England, now abed, 
Shall think themselves accursed they were hot here. 

As a Turkish attack was considered possible, 
every morning we stood-to for that ' witching hour,' 
immediately before dawn, which is usually selected 
for 'hopping the parapet.' The brigades recon- 
noitred, and exchanged shots with enemy pickets. 
Fritz came, of course. Then the i9th Brigade 
went on, and took up a position two toiles in front 
behind the Median Wall, of which more hereafter. 
The battle preparations went busily forward. 
Our camp was strewn with pebbles, an old shingle- 
beach, for we were on the ancient edges of the sea, 
before the river had built up Iraq. 1 The stones 
at Beled had been the first signs that we were 
off the alluvial plain. South of Baghdad it was 
reported that a reward of £IOO would be paid 
(by whom I never heard) to the finder of any sort 
of stone. And now, after out long sojourn in 
stoneless lands, these pebbles were a temptation, 
and there was a deal of surreptitious chucking- 
I South Mesopotamia; north is Jezireh. 



HARBE 57 

about. One watched with secret glee while a 
smitten colleague pretended to be othervise occupied, 
but nevertheless kept cunning eyes searching for 
the offender. I enjoyed myself best, for I lay and 
watched the daily parade of the troops before break- 
fast, and could inquire genially, ' Have you had a 
good stand-to ?' Fowke asked the wastes in a 
soaring falsetto, ' Why do the heathen rage ?' And 
he was returned question for question, with 'Why 
do you keep laughing at me vith those big, blue 
eyes?' Then the camp would rock with song as 
we fell to shaving and, after, breakfast. 
The superstitions which old experience had 
justified waxed strong as the days went by. When 
McInerney marked out a quoits-court and Charles 
Copeman dug a mess--these ofîïcers found their 
amusement in singular ways, and would have 
been hurt had any one attempted to usurp their 
self-appointed duties--and when I put in services 
for Sunday, the 22nd, it was recognized that we 
should match, and fight on the Sabbath. Not 
more anxiously did the legionary listen for tales 
of supernatural rires in the corn and of statues 
sweating blood than the regiments asked each 
other, ' Have you dug a mess yet ? Has the padre 
put in services?' Two of us went down with 
colitis--possibly the Sumaikchah waters were not 
even yet done with--and Fowke, as they left us, 
profaned Royal Harry's words : 

He which hath no stomach fo t/Ms fight, 
Let him depart. 

For all this, Shakespeare had a share in the 
storming of Istabulat, as will be seen ; as the ghost 



58 HARBE 

of Bishop Adhemar, who had died at Antioch, 
was said to have gone before Godfrey of Boulogne's 
scaling-ladder when the Crusaders took Jerusalem. 
(' Thank God ! ' said they. ' He was hot frustrate 
of his vows.') 
On Friday tain came, and Charles Copeman, 
who had, as already indicated, a passion for digging 
--caught, perchance, in boyhood from his father's 
sexton--dug a funk-hole from the enemy shell-fire. 
Mclnerney helped him. Now this was not an 
ordinary funk-hole. It was a very splendid and 
elaborate hole, and no one was allowed to come 
near, lest he cause its perfection to crumble away. 
So, to dry ourselves after the rain, ve all dug, and 
the Desert-Gods laughed in their bitter little minds 
as they saw. Among the rest, Sowter and I dug 
a hole, dug deeply, videly, with much laughter 
and joyfulness. And to us, as the afternoon wore 
towards evening, came the C.O., and, airer watching 
us for a few minutes, told us that we marched in 
an hour. 



III 

THE FIRST BATTLE OF ISTABULAT 

These men, the steadfast among spears, dying, won for them- 
elves a crown of glory that Iadeth hot away.--Gveek Antholog. 

In the quiet light we crossed the railvay, and moved 
up to the Median Wall, in all a march of perhaps a 
toile and a half. This vall was old in Xenophon's 
rime 1 ; and along its northern side his army moved, 
watching, and vatched by, the troops of Tissa- 
phernes, moving parallel on the other side. He 
speaks of it as twenty feet in breadth and one 
hundred feet in height. Once it vas the border 
betveen Assyria and Babylonia, and must bave 
stretched to the Euphrates. Even nov it runs 
from the Tigris far into the desert. It has crumbled 
to one-third of the height given by Xenophon. 
The semblance of a vall no longer, it is a mighty 
flank of earth, covering tiers of bricks. It effecO:.: 
ally hid our movements as we crossed the plain 
before it. The Turk was shrapnelling the wall 
and its approaches, endeavouring to reply to some 
hovitzers. These last we left on our right. As I 
happened to be the nearest officer, the major came 
up and asked me that the Leicestershires should 
move more to the left, in case any of his guns had 
a premature. 
We fell silently into our places behind the wall. 

t A nabasis, Book ii. 
59 



60 FIRS BATTLE OF ISTABULA 

The artillery behind us were favoured with a certain 
amount of zizyph-scrub ; but the wall furnished no 
cover but itself. Fowke, who at all times indulged in 
a great deal of gloomy prognostication, known as 
' Fowke-lore,' and received with delight, but not 
quite implicit belief, foretold that on the morrow 
our cavalry--it was a point of principle with the 
infantry to assume that the cavalry, as well as 
all Higher Commands, were capable of every 
stupidity and of nothing but stupid,ty--would cut 
up B Company, his own, who had a certain un- 
attractive duty assigned to them on the extreme 
left. He also told us that the MedianWall would be 
shelled to blazes, which seemed pretty probable. 
The clearest figure in my memory for this hurried, 
stealthy evening is J. Y. Copeman, cousin of Charles. 
• J. Y.'--for he never carried any graver appellation 
than mere initiais--once a rising lawyer in Van- 
couver, was now our quartermaster. The gayest 
and most debonair figure in the division, known and 
popular everyvhere, he vas also an incredibly 
efficient quartermaster. Possibly the saine qualities 
make for success in law and quartermastering. His 
gaiety was the mask for a most unsleeping energy 
and very great ability. He vas once dubbed, by 
a person more alliterative than observant, 'a frail, 
flitting figure with a fly-flap.' Yet he had taken 
over Brodie's job, at Sannaiyat, when that ex- 
perienced ' quarter ' had wakened suddenly to find 
that an aeroplane bomb had wounded him Within 
a year of this event I was privileged tobe present 
at an argumeut between our D.A.D.O.S. and our 
D.A.D.S. & T.,  as to whether Copeman or Jock 
• The Divisional Heads of Ordnance and Supply and Transport. 



FIRST BATTLE OF ISTABULAT 6r 

Reid, of the Seaforths, was the greater quarter- 
toaster. Where two such authorities failed to corne 
to a decision, I must stand aside, especially as both 
J. Y. and Reid are my friends. With his ability 
J. Y. had an indomitable resolve, which ruade him 
refuse to go sick. He carried on through months 
of constant ill-health ; sometimes he was borne on 
one of his own ration-carts, too unwell towalk or ride. 
He fed alone, but had a familiar, in the shape of a 
ridiculously clever and most selfish cat. And itis 
J. Y. whom I remember on this eve of Istabul at-- 
J. Y. marshalling his carts swiftly and silently up 
to the wall when darkness had fallen, and J. Y. 
next morning scurrying them away before dawn. 
A Company went on picket, I3 and C patrolled 
bef,re our lines, D lay behind the wall. Fires were 
kept low. J.Y. got o tir blankets up to us, and we 
had some sleep. 
Next day, the 2Ist, all kit was packed and on the 
carts by 4 a.m. Breakfast was at 3.30 ; hot tea and 
a slice of bacon. The second line fell back. Then 
we clung to the wall, and waited ; all but Fowke. 
That warrior moved off to the left with part of I3 
Company, all carrying spades. Their task was to 
corne out of the shelter of the wall as soon as the 
action began, and to work their spades frantically, 
sending up such dust-clouds that the bemused Turk 
might suppose a new Army Corps advancing to 
attack his right, and take steps accordingly. The 
brown-coated figure took a sombre farewell of me, 
reminding us that, though his crowd were going to 
be cut up by out own cavalry, the test of us would 
be shelled into annihilation when Johnny opened 
on the famous wall. 'He's bound to have the 



62 FIRST BATTLE OF ISTABULAT 

exact range, for it's such a landmark. Besides, 
he's got German archaeologists with him, who've dug 
here for years and years ; they know every brick. 
And he's been practising on it for weeks. You saw 
how he had it last night when we came up.' 
The two actions which itis customary to call the 
two Battles of Istabulat were fought in positions 
some milesapart. The litle of Istabulat, or of Dujail 
River, may fitly be reserved for the first action. The 
action of the 22nd may then be known as that of 
Istabulat Mounds. The Istabulat fight was one in 
which my own Brigade were spectators, except for 
isolated and piece-meal action. We were in re- 
serve; and the 8th Brigade, of the 3rd Division, 
were in support, in line with us, and behind the 
Median Wall. The enemy were trying a new 
bowler, Shefket Pasha being in command, vice 
Kazim Karabekir Bey, who had resigned from com- 
mand of their Eighteenth Corps just before Baghdad 
fell. We should not have supposed that this ruade 
any difference, even had we known. 
The Istabulat battle bas been described in print," 
though inadequately and, in one important respect, 
most unfairly. That unfairness I shall correct in the 
next chapter. But for this first action I do hot pro- 
pose to do more than give an outline of the work of 
the two Brigades engaged, and an account of our own 
part in reserve. 
The enemy's position was of immense strength. 
Old mounds ruade an upraised plateau, through 
which the Dujail Canal ran swiftly between steep 
and lofty banks. The I9th and 2Ist Brigades 

x 'The 13attle that Won Samarrah,' by t3rigadier-General A. G. 
Wauchope, C.M.G., D.S.O. ; Blackwood's, April, x9x8. 



FIRST BATTLE OF ISTABULAT 63 

attacked in converging columns, the first thrusting 
right in, the second colning with an arln sweep round. 
Thus, both frontal and flank attacks were provided. 
The enelny's position was so strong, his redoubts so 
lofty, and the whole forlnidable terrain had been 
so entrenched and wired round that I do not believe 
we hoped to do Inore than eat out way into a part 
of his line. The operation was Inagnificent bluff. 
His morale was calculated to be now so lov that he 
was likely to evacuate the position if we bit deeply 
into it. If this view is correct, General Maude was 
taking a heavy risk. But he not Ollly always ruade 
all preparation possible before he struck, but on 
occasion did not hesitate to strike where the odds 
should have been against success, but the prize 
of success was great, and the Inorale of the troops 
against hiln weakened by repeated blows. In the 
Jebel Halnrin his calculation failed. But at Istab- 
ulat it succeeded. But, had the Turk been as he 
was in Sannaiyat days, two Inonths back, we should 
have had a week of dreadful fighting instead of one 
bloody day. Holding Istabulat heights was a force 
estilnated at seven thousand four hundred infantry 
and rive hundred sabres, with thirty-two guns. 
This force, in its perfect position, we attacked with 
two weak brigades. 
The carts had scuttled away; J. Y. and his cat 
had stalked off through the dilnness. We were 
shivering behind the wall. At 5 a.in. the bolnbard- 
Inent opened. Froln rive to seven xve brought 
every gun to bear on the enelny. Istabulat, like 
the last of Sannaiyat's rive battles, was an artillery 
battle, in the sense that the infantry, less strongly 
and splendidly supported, would have been helpless. 



6 4 FIRST BATTLE OF ISTABULAT 

'I'11 never say a word against the gunners again 
after to-day and Sannaiyat,' said a wounded Sea- 
forths' officer fo me in the evening. The field-guns 
were wcll up from the start, and the ' hows' soon 
advanced. When the action began, the latter were 
half-a-mile behind us af the wall. It was an im- 
pressive sight, the smoke rushing out with each dis- 
charge, and then swaying back with the gun's recoil. 
]3ut the guns were rarely stationary long, and we 
soon had the unwonted experience of finding ourselves 
well behind out own artillery. Finally, in places our 
batteries were firing at almost point-blank range; 
the enemy was simply blastcd out of his trenches. 
Fowke's dust-up drew a few shells ; and the Turk 
strengthened his right to meet this new threat, 
But presently Fritz came over, very low and very 
impudcnt. He reported that it xvas only Fowke, and 
sheered off with a contempt quite visible from the 
ground. He was so low that we fired at him with 
riflcs, vainly; then he went, and was swooping 
down on the Seaforths' attack and machine-gun- 
ning it. 
The Igth Brigade got their first objectives with 
very few casualties. But then the enemy poured a 
murderous tire on to them from every sort of weapon. 
The 2Ist Brigade al1 but accomplished their impos- 
sible task. At a critical point a terrible misfortune 
occurred. The 9th Bhopals--who were playfully 
and better known as the 9th ' ]3o-Peeps '--crossed 
in front of a strong machine-gun position instead 
of outflanking it. The Turks held their tire till the 
regiment was close up. The latter lost two hundred 
men in three minutes ; and a large body of Turks. 
who were wavering on the edge of surrender, fell 



FIRST BATTLE OF ISTABULAT 65 

back instead. The Bhopals never recovered from 
this disaster. The skelcton of a battalion which 
survived the fight was sent clown the line, and ifs 
place taken by the xst Guides from India. 
Txvo other battalions of the OExst Brigade, the OEnd 
Black Watch and the x/Sth Gurkhas, crossed a plain 
bare of cover. They crossed at terrible cost, and 
scaled the ail but sheer walls of the Turkish left. 
But it was too much ; and a counter-attack swept 
the survivors off, and took two oflïcers and several 
men prisoners. Evening round our forces held, 
though the whole enemy front line was ours and 
our teeth were fixed deeply into the position. The 
Black Watch had lost ail four company commanders, 
killed. 
It is not possible to convey to paper the heroism 
and agony of this day. Mackenzie, of the Seaforths, 
who won the D.S.O. two months previously at 
Sannaiyat for valour which in any previous war 
would have won the V.C., was shot dead as he was 
offering his water-bottle to a wounded Turk. Irvine, 
of the 9th Bhopals, was wounded, and lay out all 
day; two wounded Turks looked after him, sur- 
rendering when we ultimately came up. The 
Gurkhas and Bhopals took two hundred and thirty 
prisoners. A Black Watch private captured nine 
Turks and brought them in, himself supporting the 
last of the file, who was wounded. A machine- 
gunner, isolated when his comrades were killed or 
driven back, although wounded, worked his gun 
till we advanced again. 
The artillery, as was inevitable from the rôle they 
fflled, suffered. Major the Earl of Suffolk, com- 
manding B/56th Battery, was killed by shrapnel 



66 FIRST BATTLE OF ISTABULAT 

through the heart. He was a popular, unassuming 
man. Lieutenant Stewart, of the saine battery, 
was wounded. Colonel Cotter, commanding the 
56th Brigade, R.F.A., was hit in the fore- 
head. Lieutenant Hart's wrist was shot through. 
The I4th Battery had two hundred 5.9's burst round 
them; yet they brought up their team, one by one, 
and got the guns away, losing men, but no animals. 
Meanwhile from the Median Wall the ' Tigers ' 
watched the fight. One could not help being 
reminded of the grand-stand at a football match. 
Sitting on the further side and below the crest, the 
ofiïcers watched the Indians pushing over the plain 
steadily through heavy shelling. Ve saw dreadful 
pounding away on out left, where 5.9's plunged and 
burst among the trenches the Seaforths were holding. 
Yet even a battle grows Inonotonous; so in the 
afternoon ve went down to the trenches before the 
wall to test, so far as heat and files would permit. 
I that period of slackness a number of men swarmed 
up the wall. Instead of sitting where we had done, 
they sat on the crest, against the sky-line. Hitherto 
the shrapnel had not corne nearer than a ridge four 
hundred yards away, which had been often and well 
peppered. But now came the hateful whistle, and 
the ridge was swept from end to end with both H.E. 
and shrapnel. In out trenches we were spattered 
with pebbles. Thorpe, next to me, got a piece of 
H.E. in his coat. But we escaped a direct hit. One 
shell passing overhead skimmed the ridge and burst 
on the other side, scattering Colonel Knatchbull's 
kit and smashing his fishing-rod. It killed a groom 
t The Leicestershire»' badge is a tiger, commemorating service in 
Inclia a centtry ago. 



FIRST BATTLE OF ISTABULAT 67 

and wounded three other men, and wounded three 
horses so badly that they all had to be killed. It is 
always men on duty, holding horses or otherwise 
unable to escape, who pay for the curiosity of the idle. 
Firing continued very heavy till dusk. In the 
evening I buried the man killed by the shell, and then 
went back to find the clearing-station. Part of a 
padre's recognized function is to cull and purvey 
news. And I had many friends engaged. A couple 
of toiles back I round the 7th British Field Ambulance, 
to which my own chief, A. E. Knott, was attache& 
The sight here was far more nerve-racking than 
a battlefield. It was an open human shambles, 
with miserable men lying about, some waiting on 
tables to be operated on. Knott was about to help 
in amputating a leg. In the few words I had with 
him I learnt that Suffolk was killed. I think I ara 
right when I say that he was the only man killed among 
out 7th Division gunners. ('VVe had other artillery 
with us, and they lost heavily.) If seemed strangely 
mediaeval, as from the days of Agincourt or Creçi, 
that Death, scarring so many, but forbearing to 
exact their uttermost, should strike down so great 
a naine and one that is written on so many pages of 
out history. I knew well how many would mourn 
the man. I asked Knott the question of questions, 
'What are out casualties ?' These, one knew, 
must be heavy ; but I was appalled by his reply, 
' Sixteen hundred to one o'clock.' 
I left the wretched scene and went back. Part 
of lhe way McLeod, of the Seaforths, his right arm 
in a sling, wandered with me, talking dazedly of the 
day and its fortunes. I round an officer with whom 
I had travelled on a river-boat not long belote, when 



68 FIRST BATTLE OF ISTABULAT 

his mind held the presentiment of death in his first 
action. He, like McLeod, went out from Istabulat 
with the card, 'G.S. 1 wound, right arm.' So much 
for presentiment in some cases. A different case 
occurred next day. 
I found my mess sitting down fo dinner. 
'Montag' Warren, our P.M.C., had excellently 
acquired dates and white mulberries, which last 
made a stew, poorly tasting, but a change flore long 
monotony. A clamour greeted me. '\Vhere've 
you been, padre ? What's the news ? ' I told them 
we had got on well. Then some one asked, 'But 
what did you hear about our casualties?' Minds 
were tense, for every one knew that next day our 
brigade lnust take up the attack, and for a whole 
day we had seen Hell in fttll eruption on out right. 
I told them other things I had learnt--told them 
anything that might brush aside the awkward ques- 
tion. But they demanded to know. iNeither do 
I see how I could have avoided telling. So at last 
I said, ' Well, what I was told was sixteen hundred.' 
Silence fell. To some, sixteen hundred may seem 
a butcher's bill so trifling that brave menmand these 
were men superlatively brave, officers of the I7th 
Foot, and some of them had seen more pitched 
battles than years, had known Ypres and Loos and 
Neuve Chapelle, Gallipoli and Sheikh Saad--would 
not concede it a momcntary blanching of the cheek. 
But these sixteen hundred casualties were out of 
barely four thousand men engaged, including gunners. 
In that minute each man communed with his own 
spirit, 
Voyaging through strange fields of thought ,donc. 

I Gtm-»hot. 



FIRST BATTLE OF ISTABULAT 6 9 

The reader will be weary of Henry V. Nevertheless 
Shakespeare came to the aid of us, his countrymen, 
again as gallant old Fowke quoted from the heart 
and brain of England : 

He which hath no stomach to this fight, 
Let him dcpart .... 
We would hOt die in that man's company, 
That fears his fellowship fo die with us. 

So laughter ended a terrible day. Next day our 
tiny band was the spearhead of a handful of fifteen 
hundred bayonets, who caught the Turk in his fast- 
nesses, wrested guns and prisoners from him, and 
slew and broke his forces so that they recoiled for 
thirty toiles. 
There »vas no test. Through the darkness J.Y. 
flitted to and fro, and here and there a spectral blaze 
flickered furtively. We had neither blankets nor 
greatcoats, for fear of shell-fire ruade it impossible 
to bring the carts up. The night »vas infernal with 
cold; sand-flies rose in myriads from the ground ; 
ve shivered and itched in our shorts. Old aches 
and pains found me out, rheumatism and troubles 
of a tropical climate. I lay betxveen two men, both 
of whom had seen their last sunset; one xvas 
Sergeant-Major Whatsize. Infinitely far off seemed 
peace and the time, as Grant-Anderson expressed 
if, 
Vhen the Gurkhas cease from gurkhing, and 
the Sikhs are sick no more. 

At midnight came a roar, then a crashing. It was 
Johnny blowing up Istabulat Station. At three 
o'clock we were aroused. 



IV 

THE BATTLE FOR SAMARRA 

Salure the sacred dead, 
Vvïao went and who return hOt. 
J. R. LowL. 

DAv was welcome, for it brought movement, though 
movement harassed by cold and then by heat and 
ever-increasing clouds of flies. 'VVe snatched out 
mugs of tea, out bread and bacon. At 3.3o we 
moved off. 'VVe marched behind the wall, then 
crossed the Dujail, and pushed towards the left 
flank of the enemy's position. Vast clouds of white 
dust shut us close from any knowledge as we climbed 
up a narrow pass. Fortunately the light was hardly 
even dira yet. 
'VVe dropped into a plain, and saw the Hero's 
Way by which the others had gone. Dead Gurkhas 
and Highlanders lay everywhere. I bave always 
felt that the sight of a dead Highlander touches 
even deeper springs of pathos than the sight of any 
other corpse. Analysed, the feeling cornes to this, 
I think : in his kilt he seems so obviously a peasant, 
lying murdered on the breast of the Universal 
Mother. 
So we marvelled as we saw the way and the way's 
price--marvelled that any cofld have survived to 
that stiff, towering redoubt, with frs moat of trenches 
and the trenches ringing its sides ; and marvelled 



THE BATTLE FOR SAMARRA 71 

most of all that any should have scaled its top, 
though for a moment only. These trenches held 
abundant dead, Turks and our own. On the reverse 
slope I came on rows of the enemy, huddled on their 
knees, their hands lifted to shield their heads from 
the shrapnel which had killed them. ]3elow ran 
Dujail in its steep ditch ; inland the plateau rose, 
against which the I9th Brigade had surged. 
For once the Turk's retreat had been precipitate. 
That toaster of rearguard warfare had meant to 
stand here, to save railhead and all its rolling-stock. 
His dead were more than ours ; and all our way was 
strewn with débris. Candles and cones of sugar 
were in plenty, ammunition, blankets--for Johnny 
had hot been cold, as we had--bivvies, clothes, 
slippers. I carried an ammunition-box a few toiles, 
thinking it would make a good letter-case. 
The enemy had gone. ]3efore passing to tell of 
this new day's battle I quote, from Hasted's 1 
account, a description of Istabulat lines: 

Tbe Turks intended to spend the summer thele; 
they did hot contemplate an attack before the hot 
weather set in. Three well-concealed lines of trenches 
had been prepared, on small hills and amongst deep 
nullas, with the water-supply of the ]ï)ujail running 
through the centre. Advanced redoubts and strong 
points made the defences formidable. 

The brigade formed up about 6.3o a.m., the 53rd 
Sikhs coming in from picket on the extreme right. 
We passed the 56th Brigade, R.F.A., whose officers 
eagerly came with us a short distance, telling us of 
the previous day. We halted for breakfast. 

lecture delivered by him at Rawal Pindi, Indiag See PreIace. 



I 
I 



74 THE BATTLE FOR SAMARRA 

Verbal orders came from Division. They were 
just ' Push on vigorously.' With it was coupled an 
assurance that there was nothing against us, that 
the enemy was fleeing, thoroughly demoralized. 
Ne moved on. From across the Tigris guns 
boomed steadily. Distant glimpses of river showed 
shoals, islands, spaces green with cultivation. .An 
enemy plane, reconnoitring, was shot down, and 
pilot and observer killed. This incident had an 
important influence on the battle which followed. 
Even af this stage of the campaign, we fought in 
Mesopotamia, both sides, with the most exiguous 
number of planes. The Turks having lost their 
best machine and pilot, our old friend Fritz, feared 
fo risk another. Hence, when the mounds of the 
ancient city of Istabulat lay across our Iront, the 
hostile observation was from the ground in Iront 
and from our left flank only. .And we were 
enabled to pass through a depression, whilst his tire 
went overhead, and so into the mounds. 
Ne passed a 5-9 disabled by a direct hit and nearly 
buried. The bare country was cracked with nullas, 
some of them deep. Then we opened into 
artillery formation, and entered utter desert. In 
Iront were innumerable mounds, a dead town of long 
ago. We went warily, with that quiet expectation, 
ahnost the hardest of ail experiences fo endure, of 
the first shell's coming. The oncial message was 
that the enemy was incapable of serious opposition. 
But of this the rank and file knew nothing ; had 
they known, old experience would have made them 
sceptical. Fowke's view, that ail would prove to be 
for the worst in the worst of all possible worlds and 
arrangements, was the reigning philosophy. .An 



THE BATTLE FOR SAMARRA 75 

adapted edition of Schopenhauer would have sold 
well in the mess (or anywhere in Mesopotamia). 
Novelists speak of the hero being conscious that 
eyes, in the forest or in his room at night (as may be), 
are watching, watching. This knowledge governs 
the feeling of ' going in artillery formation,' with the 
added knowledge that, though in broad sun, you 
cannot hope to see your foe, who is certain to spring 
on you, and merely waits till you are well under tire. 
The bolt fell. About 9 a.m. a double report was 
heard; then the Cherub sent back word, 'Four 
enemy snipers retiring.' ]3y 9.30 firing was heavy. 
The Cherub was wounded, and his two scouts killed. 
The enemy was invisible, and mirage ruade ranging 
impossible. The ground four hundred yards away 
was a fairyland that danced and glimmered. When 
a target was perceived, of Turks racing back, the 
orders for tire were changed quickly, from ' Three 
hundred yards' to 'fourteen hundred yards.' 
Very vainly. This mirage continued throughout 
the fight. Ahead was what we called the ' Second 
Median Wall,' a crumbled wall some twenty feet 
high, vhich ran across the front of the mounds. To 
its extreme left, our right, and in front of this wall, 
was the Turkish police-post of Istabulat, by which 
the battle was presently tobe raging. 
In those mounds the enemy had excellent cover. 
Out leading company followed the scouts, and 
took possession of the ruins. The 'Tigers' were 
arranged in four lines, according to companies, with 
less than three hundred yards between the lines. 
Dropping bullets fell fast, especially in the rear lines. 
About IO a.m. two shells burst about a hundred 
yards in front of Wilson and myself. Then Hell 



76 THE BATTLE FOR SAMARRA 

opened ail ber mouths and spat at us. The battalion 
lay down and waited. Twelve- pounder 'pip- 
squeaks' came in abundance, with a sprinkling 
of heavier stuff. Many soldiers prefer the latter. 
You can hear a 5.9 coming, and it gives you rime fo 
collect yourself, and thus perhaps escape giving others 
the trouble to collect what is left of you. I remember 
once hearing General Peebles say that in his long ex- 
perience of many wars he had known only three men 
absolutely devoid of fear, ' Smith and Brown andq 
Jones' (mentioning a notorious and most-admired 
fire-eating brigadier, a little man in whom bursting 
shells produced every symptom of intoxication 
except inability fo get about). Then he added, 
• I'm hot sure about Jones.' 
If is interesting to notice the different ways in 
which nervousness shows. I remember one man in 
whom was never observed the slightest emotion 
amid the terriblest happenings, till one day some 
one noticed that whenever he went forward he 
turned up his jacket-collar, as if to shelter from that 
fiery tain. Myself, I hate the beginning of conflict, 
and am eager to push well into it and under the 
shell-barrage. As there is said to be a cool cote in 
the heart of flame, so there is a certain cool centre 
for the spirit where horror is radiating out to a ide 
circumference. In the depths one must surrender 
one's efforts and trust fo elemental powers and 
agonies, but in the shallows all the calls are on the 
• transitory being' whose flesh and blood are pitted 
against machinery. How can the nerves and tremb- 
ling thought bear up ? Yet they bave borne up, 
even in men quick with sense and imagination. I 
felt restless as we lay on the fiat desert listening to 



THE BATTLE FOR SAMARRA 77 

the bullets singing by or to a nosecap's leisured 
search for a victim, dipping and twisting to left and 
right till at last it thudded down. If one must lie 
still, then company gives a feeling of security. Fate 
may have, doubtless bas, a special down on you, but 
even Fate is unlikely to blow you to bits if the act 
involves blowing to bits several of ber more favoured 
sons. So I remember with amusement my vague 
vexation with the curiosity that always ruade my 
companion get up and stroll about when under 
tire, peering round. Though he went scarcely 
rive yards, it seemed like desertion. 
We watched our guns run up to the ' Pimple,' 
a recently built-up mound slightly ahead of us, lately 
used as a Turkish O. Pip, now accruing to us for the 
same purpose. The infantry assumed that these 
wagons and limbers moving a hundred yards to our 
right would draw all the enemy's tire, in which case 
we, helpless on the fiat, would be shelled out of this 
existence. But this did not happen ; why, I cannot 
guess, unless I have correctly traced the reason for 
that bad observation so marked in the Turkish 
gunning all through this day. We were in the 
slightest possible depression, with a scarcely percep- 
tible lift on our left and a steady fise before. Shells 
plunged incessantly down our left, and went whist- 
ling far beyond us. But comparatively few burst 
among us ; and the shrapnel burst far too high to do 
damage. 
Our batteries were in position at the ' Pimple.' 
We rose, marched through a tornado of noise, right- 
turned, and went across the muzzle of our own guns, 
also in full blast. In Iront I saw lines of Leicester- 
shires scaling the slope and melting into the mounds. 



78 THE BATTLE FOR SAMARRA 

My diary notes : ' Men's delight to see river.' We 
came suddenly upon ]3rother Tigris, basking in 
beautiful sunlight, becalmed in bays beneath lofty 
bluffs. In this dreadful land water meant every- 
thing ; we had had experiences of thirst, not to be 
effaced in a lifetime. Away from the river men grew 
uneasy. The river meant abundance to drink, 
and bathing ; everywhere else water was bad, or the 
supply precarious. We had been away from the 
river since that night opposite Sindiyeh. So not 
the crashing shells, the ' pipsqueaks ' ripping the air 
like dried paper, nor the bullets pinging by, pre- 
vented men from greeting so dear a sight. Standing 
on the beach of imminent strife, in act to plunge, men 
ciied, ' The Tiiress, the Tigress !' Instantly a scene 
flashed back to memory from the book so often near 
to thought in these days: how Xenophon, weary 
and anxious with the restlessness and depression of 
his much-tried troops, heard a clamour from those 
who had reached a hill-crest, and, riding swiftly up 
to take measures against the expected peril, found 
them shouting "Thalati, Thalata." Seafaring folk, 
the most of them, they had caught, far below, their 
first glimpse of the Euxine, truly a hospitable water 
to them, since it could bear them home. 
Wilson dressed his first wounded in sheltered, 
broken ground, high above the river. The peaceful 
beauty of the place is with me still. Above the 
blue, unruffled pools green flycatchers darted, and 
rollers spread metallic wings. The left bank lay low 
and very lovely with flowers and fields. 'I wiLl 
answer you,' said Sir Walter laleigh, asked his 
opinion of a glass of wine, given as he went to execu- 
tion, 'as the man did who was ioing to Tyburn. 



THE BATTLE FOR SAMARRA 79 

" This is a good drink, if a man might but tarry by 
it." ' Wilson left me here with Dobson ; but almost 
immediately he sent back asking us to rejoin him. 
Out few cases, all walking ones, remained in this 
shelter till such rime as they could fall back, and 
Dobson and I crossed into the mounds. 
It was nearly eleven o'clock. Out leading com- 
pany had advanced by rushes to a distance of a 
hundred and fifty yards beyond the Second Median 
Wall. They were within three hundred yards of the 
main enemy trenches. 13attalion Head Quarters 
was at the wall, the 56th Rifles were fo the left, the 
two Sikh regiments a quarter of a mlle to the rear. 
Machine-gun sections were at the wall, supporting 
the forward regiments. The 56th 13rigade, R.F.A., 
had moved up, and were firing close behind Wilson's 
new aid-post. Presently two more companies of 
Leicesterslfires were sent beyond the wall, the 
third in response to a message that the front line 
had suffered heavily and were short of ammunition. 
13efore the final assault, then, the Leicestershires' 
line, from the east inland, was D, A, 13, these three 
companies in this order. 
13ut I ara anticipating. 
Wilson's A.P. xvas in a dwarf amphitheatre, and 
was filling up fast. Bullets were zipping over from 
left and front. The enemy position rested on river 
and railway, a half-dug position which some six 
thousand men were frantically completing when we 
caught them. Away beyond Tigris glittered the 
golden dome of Samarra mosque; Samarra town 
and Samarra station, like Baghdad town and 
station, are on opposite banks of the river. The 
station was railhead for this finished lower line of 



80 THE BATTLE FOR SAMARRA 

eighty toiles, and in it were the engines and rolling- 
stock which had been steadily withdra'«n before out 
advance. Beyond the mounds the ground dropped 
and stretched, level but broken, swept by machine- 
gun and rifle, torn with shell and shrapnel, away to 
A1-Ajik, against Samarra town. Here the Turk 
resisted savagely. He was rangingonthe wall, which 
was an extremely unhealthy spot, particularly in its 
gaps, and he enfiladed the mounds from the railway. 
We flung out fifteen hundred bayonets and our man- 
iple of cavalry at the position. The one British 
regiment, the Leicestershires, went in three hundred 
and thirty strong, and lost a hundred and t-«enty- 
eight men. 
Dropping bullets took toll even before we left the 
mounds. As I came up to join Wilson a man was 
carried past. It was Major Adams, acting second- 
in-command of the 53rd Sikhs. He had gone ahead 
of his battalion to the wall, where a bullet struck 
him in the forehead. He died within fifteen minutes, 
and was unconscious as he went past me. No man 
in the brigade was more beloved. He was always 
first to offer hospitality. It was he who met out 
mess when they first reached Sumaikchah and 
invited them to corne to his own for lunch. I never 
saw him but with a stalle of infinite kindliness on 
his face, and I saw him very often. 

Face swfft to welcome, kindling eyes whose light 
Saw all as lriends, we shall hot meet again I 

I-Iere in the aid-post sat the Cherub, struck at last, 
a flesh-wound in his thigh ; with many others. Next 
to hhn was Charles Copeman, unwounded, waiting 
to go forward with his bombers. Presently came 



THE BATTLE FOR SAMARRA 81 

Warren, bright and jaunty as a bird, and carrying 
his left arm. ' I'm all right,' said Montag, ' got a 
cushy one here.' On his heels came G.A. ; his face 
was that of a man fresh rioto the Beatific Vision. 
Much later, when I had managed to get transport to 
push him away, I asked him,' Got your stick, G.A. ? ' 
This was a stout stave on which he had carved, 
patiently and skilfully, his naine, 'H. T. Grant- 
Anderson,' and a tierce and able-looking tiger at the 
top, then his regiment, then curving round it the 
names of the actions in which it had supported him : 
Sannaiyat, lron Bridge, Mushaidie, Bcled Station; 
while do-n the line now he was to add Isiabdat. 
Samarra. This famed work of art he flaunted 
triumphantly as he climbed into the ambulance. 
But with these, and belote some of them, came 
very heavy news. By that fatal wall and on the 
bullet-swept space before it died many of out 
bravest. Hall, M.C., aged nineteen, who looked 
like Kipling's Afridi : 

He trod the ling like a buck in spring, and he looked like a lance 
in test ; 

Hall fell, acing the finish of out journey and those 
bright domes of Samarra, already gilded from the 
sloping sun. His death was merciful, a bullet 
through the heart ; ' and sorrow came, hot to him, 
but to those who loved him.' 
The theory was strongly held in the Leicester- 
shires that the only way was to advance steadily. 
This weakened the enemy's morale, and, further, 
he had no chance to pick out his ranges accurately. 
To this theory and practice of theirs they put down 
the fact that, though in the forefront of all their 



82 THE BATTLE FOR SAMARRA 

battles, their losses were often so much slighter than 
those of units that had acted more cautiously. I 
quote again from Hasted's brilliant lecture on the 
battle : 

There was no hesitation about the advance. Rushes 
were never more than twenty yards, more often ten to 
fifteen yards, as hard as one could go, and as fiat as one 
could lic, at the end of it. The theory, ' the best way 
of supporting a neighbouring unit is to advance," was 
explained at once. The attention of the enemy's 
rifles and machine-guns was naturally directed to the 
platoon or section advancing, even when they had 
completed their rush. Directly one saw a party getting 
slated, one took advantage of it to advance oneself, 
in turn drawing tire, but taking care to finish the rush 
before being properly ranged on. One seldom halted 
long enough to open covering-fire, and besides, there 
was nothing to tire at. Despite the very short halt, 
it is no exaggeration to say that I have seen men go to 
sleep between the rushes. 
Shell-bursts provided excellent cover to advance 
behind. Individuals, such as runners, adopted a zigzag 
course with success; we lost very few. Platoons and 
companies got mixed, but it was not difficult to retell 
off. Perhaps control was easier owing to very little 
rifle-fire from our side and the majority of enemy shells 
landing on the supports. There was no question of men 
taking insufficient cover; they melted into the sand 
after rive minutes with an entrenching tool, and during 
the actual advance they instinctively took advantage 
of every depression. Officers had no wish to stand up 
and direct; signallers lay fiat with telephones. Stretcher- 
bearers did not attempt to work in front of the wall. 
Lewis-gunners suffered ; they carried gun and ammuni- 
tion on the match (there were no mules), and the men 
were tired ; their rushes were not so fast as the platoon 
advances. 

To G.A., lying waiting, before he was hit, came up his 



THE BATTLE FOR SAMARRA 83 

sergeant and said, ' That's Mr. Hall over there, sir. 
I can see him lying dead.' But G. A. had thoughts 
which pressed out even grief for his dead friend. 
'I shall find time, Cassius, I shall find time.' 
Shakespeare might bave added these men to those 
Time stood still withal. For over four hours they 
lay, within three hundred yards of their invisible foe, 
under the sleet of bullets. Mclnerney told me 
afterwards that it was the heaviest rifle-fire he had 
known, except the Wadi. • The Wadi was the one 
which ruade the deepest impression of horror, of all 
those dreadful and useless slaughters in Aylmer's 
and Gorringe's attempt to relieve Kut--made this 
impression, that is, so far as (to paraphrase Macaulay) 
there is a more or less in extreme horror. And 
Mclnerney had seen the 1915 fighting in Flanders. 
Fortunately the enemy kept most of his shells for 
farther back. We got plenty in the ruins. But by 
far the greatest number went far back, where he 
supposed our reinforcements were coming up. All 
afternoon we worked in the Md-post under a roof of 
shells, screaming in both directions, from the enemy 
and from our own guns. In front the enemy watched 
the ground so closely that G.A. got his wound by 
the accident of raising his elbow. But now, as it 
drew towards noon, there was a clatter as of old iron 
behind him, and Service, the machine-gunner, 
rushed up and erected his tripod and lethal toy. No 
man was more popular than Service in normal rimes. 
But to-day he and all his tribe stirred the bitter 
enmity that Ian Hay tells us the trench-mortar 
people aroused in France. 'Go away, Service,' 
his friends entreated. But Service stayed, a 
 Action of January 13, 916. 



84 THE BATTLE FOR SAMARRA 

fact which precipitated G.A.'s next short rush 
forward. 
On the left the three Indian battalions did a 
holding attack, pushing out from the wall. They 
lost heavily. The 53rd Sikhs lost their Colonel 
(Grattan), their second-in-comlnand (Adams), their 
adjutant (Blewitt), their quartermaster (Scarth), all 
killed or died of wounds. The last-named, a very 
gallant and lovable boy, died in my own aid-post, 
which he reached after nightfall. On the right 
Graham, of the machine-gunners, won the V.C. 
For this battle he was attached to the 56th Rifles. 
In the advance from the mounds and the heavy 
fighting on the left all his men became casualties. 
His gun was knocked out, and he was wounded. 
McKay, his second-in-command, was hit in the 
throat, and died. Graham then went back for his 
other gun. This also was knocked out. Mean- 
time he had collected two more wounds. Compelled 
fo retire, he disabled his second gun completely ; 
then he carried on with the Lewis-gun, though very 
short of amlnunition, till a fourth wound put him out 
of action. Single-handed he held up a strong counter- 
attack from the Turks massing on out left. Had 
these got round, the Leicestershires would have 
been cut off. It is satisfactory to be able to say 
that he survived, with no worse hurt than a scar 
across his face. 
Belote noon Wilson asked me to take charge of the 
aid-post. Dobson remained with me ; Wilson and 
Whitehead went up to the wall and established a new 
A.P. With me were left many stretcher-cases. In 
the confused character of the ground my place 
quickly developed into an independent aid-post, and, 



THE BATTLE FOR SAMARRA 85 

in addition to receiving a stream of walking cases, 
methodically passed down by Wilson, had some 
hundred and thirty wounded, including Turks, who 
had no other treatment than such as Dobson and I 
knew how to give. I had never bandaged a man 
before, but my hands grew red to the elbow. Dobson 
worked grandly. As far as possible I left our own 
men to him, and dressed wounded Turks, of whom 
seventy were sent in late in the afternoon. This was 
on the fiat experimenum in corpore vili principle, as 
nly fingers were unskilled, and yet the work was 
very great. 
About noon a gun was heard on the left bank of 
the river. Shrapnel burst 'unpleasantly close,' 
says Hasted, 'to out front line. More followed, 
and, after bracketing, seemed to centre about two 
hundred and fifty yards in front of us. We then 
realized that General Marshall's Column had joined 
in, supporting us with enfilade gunfire; we were 
unable to see their target, and could see nothing 
of the enemy trenches. We could make out single 
occasional shivering figures moving laterally in 
the mirage. One Turk was seen throwing up 
earth, standing up now and then to put up his 
hands to us. We tried him at ranges of three 
hundred to twelve hundred yards, but did hot even 
frighten him; observation was absurdly difficult. 
Firing slackened down, but on the left, out of sight 
in a depression, we could hear the 56th engaged.' 
As Hasted remarks, it seems incredible that 
out men lay from II a.m. till 3.30 p.m. within 
three hundred yards of the enemy's trenches, 
Yet such is the fact. 
At 4 p.m. we put clown a concentrated bombard- 



86 TtIE BATTLE FOR SAMARRA 

ment of twenty minutes. The Leicestershires, a 
forlorn and depleted hope, moved swiftly up to 
within assaulting distance, C Company in reserve 
behind the right. The 5Ist Sikhs supported the 
attack. Tle 56th-Rifles put down the heaviest 
tire they could, of rifles and all the efficient machine- 
guns with the Brigade. At 4.20 the guns lifted 
one hundred yards, and the Leicestershires rushed 
in. Hasted, watchful behind with C Company, 
pushed up rapidly fo assist the front line. A long 
line of Turks rose from the ground. All these, 
and the enemy's second line also, were taken 
prisoners. Dug-outs were cleared, and many officers 
were taken, wherc lofty cliffs overhang the Tigris. 
These prisoners were sent back with ridiculously 
weak escorts. They were dazed, their spirits 
broken. G.A., wounded and falling back in search 
of the aid-post, came on a large body, wandering 
sheep without a shepherd. These he annexed, and 
his orderly led them ; he himself, using the famous 
stick as a crook, coaxed them forward. Prisoners 
came, ten and twenty in charge of one man. When 
night had fallen, they sat round us and curiously 
watched us. Altogether the 'Tigers '--hardly two 
hundred strong by now--took over eight hundred 
prisoners. Many of these escaped by reason of 
the poverty of escort. 
But I will not speak of prisoners now. Whilst 
• OUt scanty stock of ammunition was being fired 
at the Turks, retiring rapidly, the Leicestershires 
were pushing far out of reach of telephone com- 
munication. 'Limited objectives were not known 
n the open fighting. 'I To Captain Diggins fell an 
 Hasted. 



THE BATTLE FOR SAMARRA 8 7 

amazing success. Suddenly there were flashes 
almost in his face. ' Guns,' he shouted, and rushed 
forward. On and on he rushed, till he reached the 
enemy's guns, he and three of the men of A 
Company, which he commanded. These guns were 
in nullas by the river-bank. Their crews were 
sitting round them. Diggins beckoned to them to 
surrender, which they did. He was so blown with 
running that he felt sick and faint, lXTevertheless 
he recovered, and rose to the occasion. To us, 
away in the aid-posts, came epic stories of 
'Digguens,' with the ease and magnificence of 
Sir Francis Drake receiving an admiral's sword, 
shaking hands with the battery commander. He is 
a singularly great man in action, is Fred Diggins. 
In all, from several positions, Diggins took seven 
fourteen-pounders and two 5.9's. They were badly 
hit, some of them. The horses were in a wretched 
condition, none of them unwounded. Several were 
shot by us almost immediately. Diggins sent his 
prisoners back, battery commanders and ail, in 
charge of Corporal Wiiliamson and one private. 
On his way back, after delivering up his prisoners, 
Williamson was killed. 
Very soon on Diggins's arrival his subalterns, 
Thorpe and Mclnerney, joined him. He sent them 
racing back across the perilous mlle which now lay 
between them and the wall. Thorpe went to 
Lieutenant-Colonel Knatchbull, and Mclnerney to 
Creagh, the second-in-command this day. All 
did their best to get reinforcements. The two other 
brigades, however badly hit the previous day, 
were now close up. The I9th Brigade, becoming 
aware of the situation, eagerly put their services 



88 THE BATTLE FOR SAMARRA 

at our disposal. After the action the Offlcial 
explanation of the loss of the guns was that the 
Leicestershires got out of hand and went too far; 
so I was told in the colloquial language which I 
bave set down. A nearer explanation is that they 
went because of over-confidence somewhere back. 
Night was falling, and the guns already gone, 
when reinforcements from the I9th Brigade came 
past my aid-post and asked me the direction. 
Had the guns been kept, I verily believe at least 
one V.C. would bave corne our way, for Diggins, 
and M.C.'s for his lieutenants. As it was, Diggins 
got an M.C. and Thorpe a 'mention.' Nothing 
came to Mclnerney, who was one of the many 
soldiers who went through years of battle, always 
doing their duty superbly, but emerging ribbonless 
at the end. Six months later, at Tekrit, these 
guns took a heavy toll from our infantry. Now, 
after all effort, scarcely fifty men could be got up 
to them. 
In these exalted moments of victory glorious 
almost beyond belief Sergeant-Major Whatsize fell, 
twenty yards from the enemy's line. In his last 
minutes he was happy, as a child is happy. 
The handful at the guns waited. A large barrel 
of water had been put there for the Turkish gunners. 
This was drained to the last drop. The guns were 
curiously examined. ' Besides the intricate 
mechanism and beautifully finished gear, there 
were some German sextants and range-finders, 
compasses like those on a ship's binnacle, and other 
instruments on a lavish scale,' says Hasted. But 
this inspection was cut short, for now came the 
counter-attack. The Turks began to shell the 



THE BATTLE FOR SAMARRA 89 

captured gun-position. Then, from the railway- 
embankment, nearly a toile to the Leicestershires' 
left front, several lines of Turks emerged, in ex- 
tended formation, a distance of fifty yards tetween 
each line. At least two thousand were. heading 
for the fifty Leicestershires holding the guns. ' It 
was like a crowd at a football-match,' a spectator 
told me. Diggins sent word to Lowther, com- 
manding 13 Company, a little to his left rear, ' The 
Turks are counter-attacking.' Lowther replied that 
he was falling back. Diggins and Hasted fell 
back in conformity. Hasted was asking his men 
how many rounds of ammunition they had left. 
None had more than rive rounds, so perforce we 
ceased tire. The 5Ist Sikhs, with the exception of 
Subahdar Aryan Singh and two sepoys, had hot 
appeared. The Leicestershires damaged the guns 
as they might for half a dozen fevered, hot to say 
crowded, minutes of glorious life. Hasted, who 
was one of those who enjoyed this destruction, 
complains that they did hot know much about 
what to do; they burred the breech-block threads 
and smashed the sights with pickaxes. The Mills 
bombs put in the bores did hot explode satisfactorily. 
Then they fell back. One of the sergeants was hit 
in the chest, Sergeant Tivey, a Canadian ; he was 
put on one of the Turkish garrons and led along. 
• From the attention he received from the enemy's 
guns, they must have thought him a Field-Marshal.' 1 
The Turks, for all their force, crept up timidly. 
After securing the guns, they raced to Tekrit, 
thirty toiles away. But they sent a large body 
in pursuit of the retreating ' Tigers.' 

1 Hasted. 



9o THE BATTLE FOR SAMARRA 

The Leicestershires fell back rapidly, the enemy 
pressing hard. The 5Ist Sikhs were found, hidden 
by the hollows of the ground; they had been a 
buttress to the left flank of that handful of 
adventurous infantry in their forward sweep into 
the heart of the Turkish position. If was now that 
Graham and the 56th Rifles checked the counter- 
attack, which threatened to drive a wedge between 
the Leicestershires and the river. The whole 
front was now connected up, and, in face of an 
attacking army, British and Indians dug themselves 
in. The 5ISt sent along some ammunition. The 
sun was setting, and in the falling light the last 
scene of this hard-fought day took place. Turkish 
officers could be seen beating their men with the 
fiat of their swords. The enemy came, rushing 
and halting. The sun, being behind them, threw 
a clear field of observation before them; but over 
them it flung a glamour and dimness, in which 
they moved, a shadow-army, silhouettes that ruade 
a difficult mark. And out men were down to their 
last rounds of ammunition. Out guns opened 
again, but too late, and did hot find their target. 
But the Leicestershires' bombers, sixty men in 
all, were thrown forward, bringing ammunition 
which saved the day. Thirty of the sixty fell in 
that rush. The Turks were now within two hundred 
and fifty yards; but here they wavered. For 
half an hour they kept up a heavy rifle-fire. Then, 
at six o'clock, the I9th Brigade poured in, and the 
thin lines filled up with Gurkhas, Punjabis, and 
Seaforths. MoreoveL the new-comers had abund- 
ance of ammunition. Darkness fell, and out line 
pushed forward. For over two hours we could 



THE BATTLE FOR SAMARRA 91 

hear the Turks man-handling their guns away. 
But there were strong covering-parties, and our 
patrols were driven back with loss. Our guns put 
clown a spasmodic and inef4ectual tire. Then ail 
became quiet. Ail along the enemy's line of 
retreat and far up the river were flares and bonfires. 
Away in Samarra buildings were in flames, 
and down the Tigris floated two burning barges, 
of which more hereafter. 
I cannot speak as they deserve of the gallant 
work of the Indian regiments. The severity of 
their fosses fs eloquent testimony. 'Boomer' 
Barrett came clown the field, shot through the face, 
cheerfully announcing his good luck : ' l've got a 
soft one, right through the cheek.' I have spoken 
of the 53rd Sikhs. They lost their four senior 
officers, killed. But every regiment had brave 
leaders to mourn. One thinks with grief and 
admiration of that commander, a noble and greatly 
beloved man, vhom a bullet struck down, so that 
he died without recovering consciousness several 
days later. Though the body's tasks were finished, 
his mind worked on the fact that his men had been 
temporarily checked, and he kept up the cry, 
' What will they say in England ? The fell 
back; failed them.' Even so, when duty 
has become life's ruling atmosphere, 
One stern tyrannic thought which makes 
Ail other thoughts ifs slave, 
it matters little that the body should rail. The 
mind labours yet, fulfilling its unconscious allegiance. 
He went, unterrified, 
Into the Gulf of Death. 



92 THE BATTLE FOR SAMARRA 

In my aid-post we carried on, secure beneath 
out canopy of racing shells. The slope gave cover 
against ' over' bullets, except when it was necessary 
to walk about. Early in the afternoon, during 
a lull, a doctor appeared and asked if it was safe 
to bring up his ambulances. I told him 'Yes'; 
there were dropping bullets, but very little shell- 
tire. He replied that he would corne immediately. 
But the supply of shells greatly quickened, and he 
did hot appear again till near darkness, when he 
brought two motor ambulances, taking rive sitting 
and four lyillg cases in each. He promised to return, 
but did not. Apart from these eighteen, only 
the walking wounded got away, pushing back into 
out noisy and perilous hinterland. 
About four o'clock the Turks, in reply to our 
intense bombardment, put a brief but terrific tire 
on the mounds, blowing up men on every side. 
I decided to clear out to where, round the comer, 
an old wall gave upright shelter. As our first 
exodus swung round, a lluddled, hobbling mass, 
two 'coal-boxes' burst in quick succession, each 
closer than the last shell before it. I shouted 
'Duck!' We ducked, then ruade a few yards 
and ducked for the second time. A perfect sleet 
of wind and steel seemed to pass overhead. But 
no one was hit, and we were round the corner, 
where, I fear, I dropped the Cherub with con- 
siderable emphasis on his gammy leg. But indeed 
we were very lucky. Shells burst on every side 
of the Md-post--on right and left, but hot on us. 
This was one of the rare occasions when I bave felt 
confidence. Dobson and I were far too busied 
to worry. Also it scemed hard to believe that a 



TI-IE BATTLE FOR SAMARRA 93 

shell would be allowed to fall on that shattered, 
helpless suffering. I saw, without seeing, things 
that are burnt into memory. We had no morphia, 
nothing but bandages. There was a man hit in 
the head, who just flopped up and down, seemingly 
invertebrate as an eel, calling out terribly for an 
hour till he died. Another man, also hit in the 
head--but he recovered, and I afterwards met 
him in Bombay--kept muttering, ' Oh those guns ! 
They go through my head! ' 
A large body of prisoners was massed in the 
hollow beside us. When these marched off, some 
seventy xvounded were sent to me, under the 
impression that the place was a regular aid-post. They 
were horribly smashed. General Thomson's Brigade 
(I4th Division) had enfiladed them with artillery 
tire from the other bank, with dreadful effect. 
He got into their reserves, their retreat, their 
hospitals, and broke them up. In one place his 
tire caught a body of Turks massing for a counter- 
attack, beneath big bluffs by the water, and 
heaped the sand with dead and mairned. These 
men came with their gaping wounds and snapped 
limbs. Private Clifton, a friend of mine, brought 
bucket after bucket of water from the river. They 
drank almost savagely. My inexpert fingers hurt 
cruelly as I bandaged them, and they winced and 
crie& But the next minute they xvould stroke 
my hand, to show they understood good intentions. 
They had a great belief in the superiority of out 
civilization--at any rate in its medical aspect. 
They insisted, those who had been bandaged by 
the Turkish aid-posts, in tearing off their bandages 
--perfectly good ones, but smaller than ours-- 



94 TttE BATTLE FOR SAMARRA 

and on having new bandages from me. Just when 
the 5.9's blew us round the corner, Waller, adjutant 
of the 56th Brigade, R.F.A., came up and asked 
if I could send any one to look at some men just 
hit by the tornado. Mester Dobson was as busied 
as a man could be, his inevitable pipe in his mouth, 
so I went with WaIIer. One man was breathing, 
his head broken behind; the others were dead. 
Beside one of the corpses was a red mass. I saw, 
noting the fact automatically and without the 
least squeamishness, that it was his brains. We 
carried the living man in. 
In the darkness Dobson came and said. ' There's a 
wounded ofiïcer just corne in. l've given him a 
drink and dressed him.' A minute later he said, 
' That ofiïcer's dead, sir.' I went across, and round 
it was Scarth, of the 53rd. No braver spirit went 
out in this day of storm and sorrow than this very 
gallant boy. He was aged nineteen. 
1Yight fell, and slowly o'er the blood-bought mlle 
They brought a broken body, frail but brave; 
A boy who carried into death the smile 
XVith which he thanked for water that we gave. 
Steadfast among the steadfast, those who kept 
The narrow pass whereby the Leicesters swept, 
Amid the mounded sands of ancient pride 
He sleeps where Grattarl fell and Adams died. 
I know his father, and the Himalayan oaks 
and pines amid which he grew to manhood. Men 
Iooking on Scarth loved him. The freshness of 
his mountain home and his free, happy life clung 
to him to this end, amid the tumults and terrors 
of our desert battle. 
The son of Hyrtacus, whom Ide 
Sent, vith lais quiver af his side, 



THE BATTLE FOR SAMARRA 95 

From hunting beasts in forest-brake, 
To follow in ,ZEneas' wake.  
At dusk Wilson came. He had been toiling 
away, exposed and close up to the fighters, as 
always--there never was a braver regimental 
medical officer--and he now asked me to be 
responsible for getting his wounded away, whilst 
he searched the battlefield. So all his cases xvere 
evacuated into my place. At the saine time many 
chits reached me, addressed to the O.C. Clearing- 
Station. As there was no such person, I opened 
these. The regimental aid-posts were pressing 
to be cleared. My own place had men from seven 
different regiments, British and Indian, as well as 
Turks, and Wilson was sending more along. So 
I found McLeod, and we 'phoned down to the 
field ambulances. These were congested from 
yesterday's battle and to-day's walking cases, and 
replied that nothing could be done till dawn. But 
we xvere so insistent that about midnight bullock- 
carts turned up, and I got fifty wounded away. 
The ' cahars,'  in their zeal to remove all kit belong- 
ing to the wounded, carried off my water-bottle, 
haversack, rations, and communion-kit. But before 
this I had been down to the Tigris in the darkness, 
and drunk like a wounded wolf. 
To return to the battle as it died away. The 
Forxvard Observing Officer with the Leicestershires 
sent word back that fourteen guns (instead of nine) 
had been taken. The news was exultantly for- 
warded to Corps H.Q. When the case proved 
to be nine only, and those nine lost again, the 
 Eneid, Book IX, Conington's translation. 
- Indian hospital orderlies and bearers. 



9 6 THE BATTLE .FOR SAMARRA 

message was allowed to stand, the authorities 
hoping against hope that the guns would walk back 
into our possession. And Fortune was very good 
to them. Those guns, indeed, came not back; 
but, as darkness fell, two burning barges, as already 
mentioned, floated down the river. One was 
exploding, like a magazine on tire. This contained 
ammunition. The other barge, when pulled to 
shore, was round to contain fourteen field-guns, 
the number specified to Corps--old guns, but 
serviceable. Johnny, despairing of getting these 
away, had set tire to the barge to sink them. So 
the original message stood, and our loss could be 
glossed over. And the wastefulness of sinking 
quite good guns was avoided. 
The night vas sleepless, bitterly cold. Dobson 
and I kept a watch for Arabs. I sat beside a dead 
man, and shared his oil-sheet. A few more wounded 
came in after midnight, among them Sergeant 
Tivey. All night long wounded Turks crawled the 
battlefields and cried in the cold. But I heard 
none of them, for there were groans much nearer. 
Our unwounded prisoners vere crovded into a 
nulla. Among them xvas the Turkish Artillery 
Brigade Commander, who knev some English and 
kept insisting on a hearing from time to time. 
But all he ever said was, 'Yes, gentlemen, you 
have got my guns, but, what is far worse, you have 
got me.' Had we cared, we might bave cheered 
him with the information that we had not got his 
guns, but only himself. Yet, considering the 
relative value, in his eyes, of himself and these, 
such information would hardly have consoled him. 
In this battle occurred a case of a man being 



THE BATTLE FOR SAMARRA 97 

'fey.' An officer gave his kit and Inoney to his 
batlnan, for distribution to his platoon, the previous 
night. As he went into action a friend exchanged 
greetings. He replied, 'Yes, but l'In afraid l'in 
not coming back to-day.' No one saw hiln fall, 
but he was round dead in the Inounds, with several 
wounds. 
The east was reddening when I saw Haughton, 
Staff-Captain of the I9th Brigade, on the hillock 
above the aid-post. This Brigade H.Q. were my 
best friends in the division. I begged a Inug of 
tea froln hiln, so we went along together. If ound 
General Peebles and Brigade-Major Thornhill, and 
they gave Ine an excellent breakfast. 
The 28th Brigade Inoved on, following the 2Ist 
Brigade, who occupied Salnarra. But the wounded 
relnained. Shortly after dawn the Inedical folk, 
in fulfillnent of their prolnise, sent up an ordinary 
Inotor-car and took away two sitting cases. Nothing 
else happened. Tilne passed, and the heat was 
getting up. So I wandered back solne Iniles, and 
round hospital-tents. Here was Father Bernard 
Farrell, the Rolnan Catholic padre, slaving, as he 
had done all night. I saw Westlake, and Sowter, 
who was dying. ' It's been a great fight, padre,' 
said Sowter, 'a great fight, l'in getting better.' 
No loss was felt Inore severely than that of this 
quiet, able Inan. He had seen Inuch fighting in 
France, and in this, his first action with us, he 
ilnpressed every one with his coolness and efficiency. 
He had walked across to Lowther, his cornpany 
colnlnander, to draw his attention to a new and 
threatening Inovelnent of the enelny. Then, as 
he stopped to bandage a wounded sergeant, a 
G 



98 THE BATTLE FOR SAMARRA 

bullet pierced his stomach. The same bullet, 
leaving his body, went through both legs of Sergeant 
Lang, the one bullet inaking six holes. Sowter 
had been with us one week. I never knew any 
one whose influence went so deep in so brief a 
tiine. 

Our seven-days' guest, he came and went Iris way, 
Walking the darkness gaflanded with praise l 
Out seven-days' guestl Yet love that this man gained 
Others bave scarce in three-score years attained. 

The hospital-tents were congested with wounded, 
and the responsible ofiïcer declined to take any 
Inore. They had no Inore stretchers, all being 
used as beds, and no Inore space. Fortunately an 
order caine froin Division that they must iin- 
mediately reinove soine wounded Turks. I said, 
'I have soine wounded Turks.' 'Yes, but l'in 
afraid those aren't the Turks Ineant.' 'Well,' 
I replied, 'I've been up all night, and l'in very 
footsore. You might at least give Ine a lift back.' 
This was conceded, and I returned in the first of 
rive Inotor-ainbulances. The corporal-in-charge had 
no idea where he was to find the wounded Turks, 
so I swept hiin into my place. This I cleared of 
every one but a few horribly wounded prisoners, 
and sent on a note to the M.O. of the 5Ist Sikhs. 
The previous day two wounded Turks, a machine- 
gun officer and a Red Crescent orderly, had arrived 
in the aid-post. The latter helped nobly with the 
wounded, so I had a note sent down with thein, 
that they had earned good treatment. The officer 
had a friend froin the saine military college in 
Stainboul, which friend had a ghastly shell-wound 



THE BATTLE FOR SAMARRA 99 

in his back. What happened, I think, was this. 
When his friend was knocked out, the unwounded 
officer--they were both boys, well under twenty 
--brought up a medical orderly. Ail three were 
then overwhelmed by our rush, and in the confusion 
the unwounded men kept with the other, to see 
that he got treatment when opportunity came. 
So they slipped into my aid-post, where they 
stopped all night, making no offer to escape. I 
sent a message to Brigade, but their reply, a verbal 
one which did not reach me till next evening, was 
that they had better stay where they were. The 
unwounded officer's silent anxiety for his friend 
was most touching, and I pushed the latter away 
with the midnight convoy. Next morning I sent 
both officer and orderly to the nearest prisoners' 
camp; but the sergeant-in-charge returned them, 
with word that he took only wounded prisoners. 
So I had to keep them. Weir, the staff-captain, 
joined me, and we talked to the officer in French 
while we waited for the divisional second line to 
corne up. We were puzzled as to why the Turks 
left a position so strong as Istabulat before being 
actually driven out. The officer's reply was, 
' Because of the fiat' (aeroplane). I cannot follow 
this, unless, misunderstanding us, he was referring 
to this second day's fight and the aeroplane brought 
down at the beginning. Perhaps, being afraid 
to send up any other 'planes, they were deceived 
as to our number. He insisted that we had had 
three divisions in action, and was mortified when 
we told him the truth. 
The sun was getting very hot, and, since no more 
ambulances came, we were troubled for the few 



IOO THE BATTLE FOR SAMARRA 

pitifully smashed Turks who still remained. We 
got covers of sorts for them, though we could hOt 
prevent the flies from festooning their wounds. 
'It's up to us to do out best,' said Weir. 'We 
shouldn't care for it if out wounded were left by 
them.' In the afternoon ambulances began to 
arrive, and I evacuated these few and saw 
the evacuation of the Indian regimental A.P.'s 
commence. My dead were buried, and their 
graves effaced, so far as possible, against prowling 
13uddus. The second line arrived, so my prisoners 
and I set out on out tired trudge to Samarra. 
I told the Turks of out Somme successes (as we 
then took them to be) and out more recent Match 
victories in Flanders, pointing out the big improve- 
ment. 'In the begillning we had little artillery, 
but now we bave much.' ' Beaucop,' he repeated, 
with conviction. In every way one spared a brave 
enemy's feelings. Last year they had won; now 
it was out turn. ' That is so,' said he. This thought 
comforted him, and the memory of their great 
triumphs before Kut in early 1916. Did he hOt 
wear a medal for those days ? 'Pour le mérite,' 
the orderly proudly told me. I begged scraps of 
biscuits from men on the match, and we shared 
them. I expressed regret for this match on empty 
stomachs. "C'est toujours la marche,' said the 
officer, shrugging his shoulders. Truly, it must 
have been; a nightmare of rapid movement and 
sleeplessness even for us who pursued---hammer 
and chase ever since Maude broke up the Turkistl 
lines before Kut. 
As we marched I found that the Indians took 
us for three prisoners and hot two, I being a German 



THE BATTLE FOR SAMARRA IOI 

officer. But when J. Y. cantered up and hailed 
me, a laugh ran down the column, with the words 
'Padre Sahib.' At Samarra the first person we 
ran into was General Peebles, to whom I handed 
over my prisoners, with a request that they should 
be fed. Haughton promised to see to this. Then 
a pleasant thing happened. The Turkish officer 
stepped quickly up to me, saluted, and held out 
his hand. I saluted back, and we shook hands. 
They were good fellows, both officer and orderly, 
and carried themselves like free men. 
It was now 5 p.m. I joined the ' Tigers.' Fowke 
and Lowther had each killed a snake after laying 
their blankets down. They gave me good greeting. 
I fed and washed, then slept abundantly. 
For the two Istabulat battles the oncial return 
of captures was: Twenty officers and six hundred 
and sixty-seven men, one 5.9, fourteen Krupp 
field-guns, two machine-guns, twelve hundred and 
forty rifles, a quantity of hand-grenades, two 
hundred rounds of gun-ammunition, rive hundred and 
*orty thousand rounds of rifle-ammunition, four 
limbers, sixteen engines, two hundred and forty 
trucks, one crane, spare wheels and other stores, two 
munition barges. Samarra Station was dismantled, 
but the engines and trucks were there. Up to the 
last the Turk had meant to keep the railhead, so 
the engines were only partly disabled, boilers 
having been removed from some and other parts 
from others, t3y putting parts of engines together 
we got a sufficiency of usable engines. Within 
a fortnight we had trains running. 
For the battle of the 22nd both Diggins and 
Lowther got M.C.'s. If it was the former's ëlan 



Io2 THE BATTLE FOR SAMARRA 

which carried out wave into the enemy's guns, 
the latter's judgement played a great part in 
extricating us without disaster. Hasted, the alert 
and watchful, had already been gazetted after 
the fall of Baghdad as D.S.O. He left us shortly 
after, returning fo his own regiment, the Durham 
Light Infantry, in India. In Rawal Pindi he 
delivered a lecture on the action in which he had 
played so brilliant a part. 
It would be interesting fo know if Hasted bas 
ever had an enemy. His personal charm is almost 
greater than any man has a right fo bave, especially 
when the Gods bave already ruade that man an 
able soldier and administrator. But itis an unfair 
world. 
These awards were announced in a Gazette nearly 
a year later. To Sowter, had he lived, would ha;ce 
fallen a third M.C. Fowke, as well as Thorpe, got 
a ' mention,' of which he was utterly unaware, being 
away sick, till I tan into him in Kantara 1 in 1918 , 
about eleven o'clock af night. I roused him from 
sleep for a chat. When I told him of his' mention,' 
he considered that I was making a very successful 
attempt fo be humorous, and laughed himself fo 
sleep again. Af intervals till dawn I heard him still 
laughing in his dreams af a notion so ridiculous. 
I hope that some other will tell of the deeds of 
the Indian regiments. Even more I hope that 
some one will tell, as I cannot, of the gallant and 
costly charge which out cavalry ruade on the 
Turkish trenches to out left, a charge which stag- 
gered the enemy as he swung round fo cut off the 
Leicestershires. The 32nd Lancers lost, among 
• On the Suez Canal. 



THE BATTLE FOR SAMARRA 103 

others, their Colonel (Gritfiths) and their Adjutant 
(Captain Hunter), killed. 
These two days' fighting at Istabulat and for 
Samarra cost us about two thousand four hundred 
casualties. The 28th Brigade, on the 22nd, lost 
four hundred and forty-six men. The enemy's 
losses, including prisoners, must bave been at least 
three thousand. 
My one note for April 24 is ' Flies.' It was high 
summer, and in the terrible and waxing heats we 
lay for over a month longer, with no tents, and with 
no shelter save out blanket-bivvies. We were the 
more wretched in that we occupied an old enemy 
camp, and were entered into full possession of ifs 
legacy of filth and files. On the first Sunday my 
morning service was swathed in dust, one swirling 
misery, and I was sore tempted to preach, fore- 
seeing the days to corne, on 'These are but the 
beginning of sorrows.' 



V 

SUMMER AND WAITING 

SAMARRA was entered on April 23, the 2Ist and 
8th Brigades going through the I9th and 28th 
Brigades. These brigades followed during the 
course of the day, and the ridge of A1-Ajik fell into 
our hands. From Samarra northwards high bluffs 
run with the river, pushing out toit from plateaus 
stretching across the heart of Jezireh and climbing 
again beyond the river to the Jebel Hamrin. Below 
the bluffs are wide spaces of dead ground, beds 
which the Tigris has forsaken. On the right bank, 
before the dead ground begins and directly opposite 
Samarra town, is a plain some ten or dozen toiles 
in length, between the mounds of the battle of 
April 22 and the crest of A1-Ajik ; this plain may 
be three mlles broad. A1-Ajik covers and com- 
mands all approaches from the north, and, with the 
central plateau, shuts the plain within a crescent. 
Here, behind A1-Ajik, lay our camp for the next 
seven months. 
North from A1-Ajik the plateau rolls away to 
Tekrit, and the saine rolling country lies to west- 
ward also, broken with nulla and water-hole. To 
Tekrit, more than twenty mlles beyond, the 
Turkish Army fled. 
Samarra is a dirty, sand-coloured town, with 
xo4 



SUMMER AND WAITING lO5 

no touch of brightness but what its famous dome 
gives it. This dome it was that shone over against 
the sunset, the last earthly beauty for so many eyes, 
on that evening of savage battle when the 7th 
Division flung out its leading brigade and reached, 
all but held, the Turkish guns. The dome hides the 
cavern into which the Twelfth Imam vanished, 
and from which he will emerge, bringing righteous- 
ness to a faithless world. Just beyond the dome 
rises the corkscrew tower, built in ilnitation of the 
Babylonian zigg-urats. To the north-east is' Julian's 
Tomb,' a high pyramid in the desert. If was near 
Samarra that he suffered defeat and died of wounds. 
For twenty toiles round, in Beit Khalifa, Eski 
Baghdad, and elsewhere, is one confused huddle of 
ruins. Itis hard to believe that such tawdry mag- 
nificence as Harun's successors intermittently 
brought to the town during the precarious times 
of Abbasid decay is responsible for all these arches 
and caverns and tumbled bricks. Major Kenneth 
Mason, already mentioned as having identified 
Xenophon's Sittake, has collected good reasons for 
placing Opis, once the great mart of the East, at 
Eski Baghdad, and not where the maps conjecturally 
place it, twenty miles farther down Tigris. In 
summer, green is none save in patches by the river ; 
but a thin scurf of yellow grass and coarse herbage 
overspread the ruins, in which were abundant 
partridges and quails. Germans had been excavat- 
ing before we came, and we found in the town 
many cases of antiquities, ready packed for trans- 
port to Europe. The 7th Division, digging their 
positions, presently found pottery, glazed fragments, 
and tear-bottles. 



lO6 SUMMER AND WAITING 

The town is valled, and sits above steep bluffs. 
Tigris, swiIt and clear like a mountain stream, 
faces by, dividing round an island. ]3elow the town 
is another is]and, with an expanse of shingle towards 
the right bank; to this island Divisional Head 
Quarters went, a most unfair avoidance of the ' dust- 
devils' which plagued their brethren. Here were 
tamarisk thickets, haunted with great metallic 
beetles, with such -«,ings as Eastern smiths know 
how to use. The green bushes were good to th¢ eyes, 
and a pleasant curtain from flying sand. But a 
sudden fise in the river flushed its shallow right 
arm, and ruade the place an island in reality and all 
inconvenience. The righteous, seeing this, rejoiced. 
The brigades scattered over the plain, the 8th 
Brigade going on, after brief pause, to the ravines 
and j ungles of the Adhaim, where the war was 
dying. May's first week swept the Turk out of the 
Adhaim Valley, and out troops settled down for 
the summer. 
The brigades scattered; blankets came up, and 
we slept. For over a month we had only bivvies, 
the usual rifle-supported blanket, tugging and 
straining at the stones which held it whenever a 
' dust-devil' danced by or a sandstorm arose. But 
E.P." tents dribbled in. Even mails began to 
arrive, and parcels ; and to me, on the first day of 
ease, came a jubilant telegranl from my old friends 
of the I9th Brigade : ' Corne and have tea with us. 
VVe have a cake ! ' I went, and found them where 
the shingles led to Divisional Island. Blue rollers 
swung themselves on the air below the cliffs ; and 
on the pebbles an owl skipped and danced, showing 
a European private'. 



SUMMER AND WAITING lO7 

off in the beautiftll evening sunlight. This was a 
daily performance, Thornhill told me. It had been 
General Peebles' birthday, and the brag about the 
cake was splendidly justified. There were buns 
also. 
Summer dragged by. In Baghdad pomegranates 
blossomed, mulberries fruited, figs ripened. But 
in Samarra the desert throbbed and shimmered 
in the growing and great heats. Worst of all, we 
missed the dates. The fresh dates are the one 
solace of Mesopotamia. My campaigning recollec- 
tions are embittered by this memory, that both 
my two date-seasons were spent up the line, at 
Sannaiyat and Samarra, where dates never came. 
Till mid-May the nights remained cool. Mesopo- 
tamia's extremes are amazing. After a day intoler- 
able as I bave found very few days in India will 
corne a night, not close and sleepless as an Indian 
night, but cool, even cold. In the April fighting 
we found the nights bitter. So May gave us 
a fortnight of tolerable nights; but then tire 
settled on the land. The files all died. But the 
infantry had an elaborate trench-system to dig, 
so they were not able to die. The ground was 
solid gypsum. 
Changes happened. Generals Peebles and Davies 
went to India on leave. The enemy's Intelligence 
Department, alert as ever, noted the fact, and gave 
it out that our losses in the Istabtflat battles were 
even heavier than they had supposed at first, for 
two generals had left the front, casualties. Such a 
statement was twice blessed : it cheered the enemy, 
and cheered us also. In my own brigade Thorpe 
became staff-captain, in place of Weir, who went 



o8 SUMMER AND WAITING 

home. Te all the Leicestershires, and te me 
especially, Thorpe's going was a heavy loss. 'I 
could have better spared a better man.' I must 
henceforth botanize alerte. No longer could he teach 
young subalterns te 'practise music '--in the 
Socratic sense, that the best music was philosophy-- 
te be repaid with their affectionate regard as 
• Daddy.' He wrote te me, a month after his going, 
that he was becoming as 'great a horseman as 
John Wesley'; and he lest weight during that 
summer. He lest a good dea] his first week, and 
in this manner. The Bishop of Nagpur was due 
te visit us, and all who had subscribed their religion 
Offlcially as ' C. of E.' were commanded te brighten 
be]ts and buttons for a service parade on Wednesday 
at 6 ak. emma. The parade was held, every one 
arriving, of course, considerably before the heur. 
The Divisional General was there, and many generals 
and colonels ; in fact, every Anglican of note, except 
Thorpe, who sent word, about 6.3 o, that he had 
ruade a mistake, and the service was te be next day, 
Thursday, at the saine heur. At this annotmcement 
a wave of uncontrollable grief swept over the vast 
assembly, and for seine days Thorpe »»'as a fugitive. 
But he returned te normal cottrses, and in time even 
this witty inauguration of his reign was forgiven. 
But I had many inquiries as te the tenets of 
Wesleyanism. 
For me, I went sick; recovered ; and went sick 
again, drifting down-stream, and te India. But 
first Thornhill, Bracken the machine-gunner, and I 
explored A1-Ajik. 
Once upon a time the river had washed the foot 
of A1-Ajik ridge. But new a long stretch of dead 



SUMMER AND WAITING lO 9 

ground intervenes before water is reached. Local 
legend says a lady lived here who played Hero to a 
Leander on the opposite bank. More obviously, 
A1-Ajik castle guarded Samarra from the north. 
The castle is on steep crags, with vast nullas in 
front. In the old days it should bave been impreg- 
nable. Underneath are very large vaults, filled 
with rubbish. As out exploring party came up 
a pair of hawks left their eyrie, and circled round us, 
screaming their indignation. When the division 
first reached A1-Ajik, Thornhill said, a pair of 
Egyptian vultures (Pharaoh's Chickens) were nest- 
ing here. These had gone. They are rare birds in 
Mesopotamia, and I never saw them north of Sheikh 
Saad. Thornhill had seen Brahminy Duck in a 
nulla, so we searched till we found a tunnel. Bracken 
leading, we got in some hundred yards, stooping 
and striking matches, till we came on a heap of 
bones. Thornhill surmised a hyena, so we returned, 
as no one wished to fight even that, unarmed and in 
a diameter of less than rive feet. There must be 
many tunnels leading into the heart of A1-Ajik 
fortress ; and here, as everywhere on the plateau, 
were remains of the most complicated irrigation 
system the ancient world knew. The castle, as it 
stands, bas been largely built out of the ruined 
portions on its northern face. 
Life was scant at Samarra, as poor as it had been 
abundant at Sannaiyat. The crested larks were of 
a new species. Owls nested in the old wells ; and 
most units were presently owning their owlets or 
kestrels or speckled kingfishers, miserable-looking 
birds. Sandgrouse were few, but commoner towards 
the central plateau, where were water-holes. Gazelles 



IiO SUMMER AND WAITING 

were often seen by pickets, and used to break across 
the railway-line, to water at the river. One regiment 
took a Lewis-gun after them, and other folk chased 
them in motor-cars. The British army, as ever, 
busied itself, as opportunity came, in its self- 
appointed task of simplifying the country's fauna 
that the naturalist's work might be easier. Wherefore 
the gazelles left our precincts, but still haunted the 
channels of the Dujail, by Beled and Istabulat. 
For most of the year the water-holes sufficed them, 
the green, velvet dips, with zizyph-bushes fringing 
each hollow, which redeem the desert. Hedgehog 
quills and skins were common, as everywhere in 
Mesopotamia. A vast hedgehog led C Company of 
the Leicestershires nightly to their picket-stations. 
On its first appearance a man ran to bayonet it, 
but the officer did hot see the necessity of this, and 
stopped him. So the urchin lived, and ever after 
paced gravely before its friends. Then we had the 
usual birds. Storks nested in the town; there 
were rollers and kingfishers, and a hawk or two. 
But the desert, with its starved crop of dwarf thorns, 
had no place for bird or animal. Men who saw 
Samarra after my time raved of its winter glory, 
its irises, its grass knee-high, its splendid anemones. 
But in summer the land lay desolate. Nothing 
abounded but scorpions, mantidae, and grass- 
hoppers. 
And nothing happened but the heat. In July, 
in ghastly heat, men were expected to take Ramadie. 
They failed, most of their heavy casualties being 
from heat-stroke. But that was the Connaught 
Rangers and a Euphrates affair. At Samarra 
we experienced nothing more dangerous than 



SUMMER AND WAITING III 

Fritz's I visits. Once or twice he bombed the 
station. çVhen the railway began running, there 
were two accidental derailments, in the second of 
which several men were killed and General Maude 
had a narrow escape. By Sumaikchah a 13ritish 
oflïcer and his Indian escort were vaylaid and 
murdered. The murderers were outlawed; but a 
year later the first on our list of the whole gang 
walked back into occupied territory and was taken 
and hanged, despite the wish of the Politicals to 
spare him. Of all these events, such as they were, 
we heard from Barron--' the bold, bad 13arron,' 
who left the Leicestershires to take up 'important 
railway duties ' pending the renewal of fighting. 
These matters are dull enough; but no recital 
can be so dull as the times were, and »ve had to 
live through them. At Samarra the division worked 
unmolested through the awful heats, digging the 
hard ground, cutting avenues for machine-gun tire, 
making strong points. Wilson had gone, but he 
had an adequate successor in Haigh. Thanks to 
him, the Leicestershires established the singular 
fact that Samarra is the healthiest spot in the world. 
One man died, in place of the dreadful sequence of 
deaths a year before at Sannaiyat. The division's 
daily sick-rate was .9 a thousand ! The Leicester- 
shires and the Indian battalions did even better. 
And yet we spent the summer in a place where 
fresh vegetables were unprocurable, except a most 
inadequate supply of melons and (rarely) beans. 
Djinns scoured the plain, and at any hour of any 
day hall a score of 'dust-devils' could be seen 
racing or sweeping majestically along--each djinn 
! A new Fritz, of course. The old one was kiIIed af Istabulat. 



112 SUMMER AND WAITING 

seemed to make his own wind and choose his own 
pace--now towering fo a height of several hundred 
feet, with vast, swirling base, and now trailing 
a tenuous mist across a nulla. Out few hens tan 
panting into the tents, ejected atone door, only 
to enter af another. And yet, as I bave said, only 
one man died--with the battalion, that is--and 
ridiculously few went sick. But by Colonel Knatch- 
bull's death in Baghdad the battalion lost ifs 
commander, and the division a very fine soldier. 
Wounded af Sheikh Saad in January, 1916, he had 
returned in rime for the three railhead battles. 
He strnggled on with sickness, refusing fo con- 
template a second leave fo India, and died at 
midsummer. 
The worst of the heats I escaped. After a spell 
in Beit Na'ama, the delightful estuary-side oflîcers' 
ho:spital, a tangle of citron and fig-groves, with 
vines making cool roofs, and with the Shat-el-Arab 
flowing by, I ,vas discharged. Feeling more 
wretched than ever, I lingered on af Busra in the 
poisonous billets, filthy Arab bouses, named by 
their present occupants ' Flea Villa,' ' Bug Cottage," 
'Muddy View' (this would be for winter; the 
world nowhere else holds such mud as Busra mud). 
Busra is hateful beyond words ; any place up the 
line is preferable, except perhaps Twin Canals 1 
and Beled. I was to be returned fo duty 'in due 
course'; but the Transport authorities were never 
in a hurry. It was like being slowly baked in a 
brick oven. I had spent ten days so, with no 
prospect of being given a boat up-stream, when 

t Belov Kut, on the right bank of the TigEs. A pestilential haunt 
in I96. 



SUMMER AND WAITING I13 

some one told General Fane, the O.C. 7th Division, 
that I had been very sick and was waiting to get 
back to duty. He said, ' Nonsense,' and sent a wire 
direct to G.H.Q., insisting that I be given a mnonth's 
leave in India. I got it il.nl.nediately. But for 
this action, leave could not have col.ne l.ny way. 
No division ever had a kinder O.C. than Fane. 
He knew every one, and was constantly doing 
thoughtful acts such as this. 
India, when it round til.ne to give thought to 
Mesopotamia, chattered of the trel.nendous Turco- 
German offensive which was to sweep clown frol.n 
Mosul in the autumnn. When I returned, at the end 
of August, all down the line I found excitelment. 
Only at Samnarra itself was quiet and ease of mnind, 
where old col.nrades greeted mne joyously and intro- 
duced new-comners. There was Fergusson, reputed 
to have hall a century of ranching and horse- 
dealing in the Argentine ; ' Forty-nine,' said Fowke, 
in a delighted whisper, assessing his age. (As a 
matter of fact, Fergusson's years were forty-one.) 
There was ' Ezra' (' Likewise Beetle,' interpolated 
Fowke), who had arrived the day I went sick. 
' Ezra,' who signed his nal.ne as Mason, and was 
brother of Kenneth Mason, engineer and archaeolo- 
gist, got his nickname from a supposed l.nodelling 
of his bald dol.ne upon Ezra's Tomnb, by Q'urna. 
Keely, classical scholar and philosopher, was stand- 
ing outside his tent, pondering, as I came up to 
rejoin the battalion. He called l.ne up, and asked 
l.ne earnestly what girl frol.n Greek literature I 
should like to have known, even to have had as 
col.npanion on the Thalnes at Richl.nond. ' Nausicaa,' 
I said. ' Every timne,' agreed Keely, brightening up 



Il 4 SUMMER AND WAITING 

as if a heavy load had been lifted froln his Inind, 
and begged me to have a drink in her honour. Bale 
and Charles Copelnan were away, by Al-Ajik; 
'in the nearest E.P. tent to Constantinople,' G.A. 
said. Of our wounded, only G.A. was back. 
Warren calne later; Westlake relnained in India. 
Some surprise was expressed that I had returned 
at all. This was Thorpe's doing. To explain, I 
Inust go back a little. I knew Thorpe years before 
the war. We Inet again in Sannaiyat trenches. 
His Inessmates, who desired to know Inore of 
Thorpe's old life, asked me how we Inet first. ' I 
was chaplain of a jail at Peterborough,' I replied. 
The statelnent was received at once ; the only head 
on which further light was sought was as to the 
nulnber of years that were deducted froln his sen- 
tence for service in Mesopotalnia. (Convicts froln 
India who calne out in the Labour Corps to Mesopo- 
talnia were relnitted ten years.) Now, during Iny 
Indian leave, an old friend round Ine out and took 
Ine to spend the last days of my Darjiling visit with 
him. He was, alnong other things, superintendent 
of the prison. I carelessly wrote to Thorpe on a 
sheet of paper with the printed heading ' Jail-house, 
Darjiling.' Thorpe spent July and August in 
taking this sheet round froln Iness to Iness. He 
blackened Iny reputation, and opened up a field of 
speculation as to the reason of Iny incarceration. 
' No doubt this Inan is a Inurderer, wholn, though 
he hath escaped froln the sea '--froln Mesopotalnia, 
say--' yet Justice hath not suffered to live." He 
considered that he was level with Ine for Iny Peter- 
borough jail-jape, and was Inuch cheered. 
It took the best part of Septelnber to get up-strealn 



SUMMER AND WAITING 115 

and back to Samarra. When the boat reached 
Busra, scores of men were prostrate on the deck 
from heat-stroke and exhaustion. In the Gulf 
I had a funeral. I tried fo skip to the finish of 
the service, with the page shimmering and jump- 
ing before me, but had fo hand the book fo the 
captain as I reeled down. He threw the body 
over, and every one flew up-deck. Later, on the 
up-stream trip, we realized the fact on which all 
Mesopotamia agreed, that for sheer horror the 
deck of a P-boat' is unrivalled. Possibly if is 
due to the glare from the water, but our daily 
temperatures of between 5 ° and 25 ° in the 
shade seemed a hundredfold higher than they 
were. Just below Kut we were held up for several 
days in a camp; not even Sheikh Saad in the old, 
bad days was more cursed with sandflies. 
I had for companion on board Kenneth Mason, 
engineer and archaeiligist. We passed Sannaiyat 
and the winding reaches where every earth-scar 
and mound had a history. Here the Turk had 
blown up the ammunition barges, and for hundreds 
of yards inland the ground was still strewn with 
twisted scrap-iron ; here he had set his 5.9's on the 
balloon, and the evening fishing had been interrupted; 
here used fo be the advanced dressing-station in 
the rimes of trench warfare; here was Left Bank 
Group, where our guns had been, the tamarisk 
thickets and wheeling harriers, and the old shell- 
holes on the beach. Those crumbling sandbanks 
were Mason's Mounds, and those were Crofton's 
O. Pip.' Here were Abu Roman Mounds, and 
here the lines of Nakhailat or Suwada ; here were 
* Paddle-boat. * Observation post. 



xx6 SUMMER AND WAITING 

the I3eit Aiessa defences; here those of Abdul 
Hassan and E Mounds. It was on that angle that 
the Julnar grounded in that despairing, iinpossible 
atteinpt to run the blockade and bring food to 
Townshend's Inen. It was in that scrub that the 
Turks and H.L.I. 1 crashed when both sides launched 
a sirnultaneous attack. 
We passed Kut. The river was low, and the 
people were growing lettuce, while they Inight, on 
the dried sandbanks. The town front against the 
palins showed its shell-holes and caverns, and we 
remernbered how »ve used to see the city, froln 
Dujaileh Redoubt, rising up like a green proinontory. 
Froln Townshend's first battle there to the day 
when the 7th Division occupied the lines of Suwada, 
Kut cost us not less in battle casualties than sixty 
thousand Inen. One Inakes no coinputation of the 
dead in the old cholera cainps by Abu Roinan, 
or in a score of ceineteries froin Sannaiyat and Es- 
Sinn to t3oinbay, who perished in that tiine when 

the shark-tracked slfips went down 
To Bombay Town. 

Kut will be a place of pilgriinage, and deserves to 
be, even ainong the Inany shrines of this war. 
Froin Sheikh Saad to Shuinran is one graveyard 
and battlefield, a stretch of thirty Iniles, where 
over twenty pitched battles took place, Inany 
being t3ritish defeats. At Kut itself Townshend's 
old trenches can be traced ; and in the town are 
broken buildings, and, to eastward, the Inonuinent 
erected by the Turks. Across the river is the 

I Highland Light Infantry. 



SUMMER AND WAITING II7 

Shat-el-Hai and its complicated and costly battle- 
fields, and the relics of the famous liquorice factory 
which Townshend held, and which we took, in 1917, 
almost last of ail. At Shumran, above the town, 
is the place of the great crossing. And on the 
ribs of sand, when water is low, are liquorice-stacks 
and lettuce-beds. 

The mud-strips green with lettuce, red with stacks 
Of liquorice ; shattered walls, and gaping caves: 
]3eyond, the shiiting sands; the jackal's tracks; 
The dirging wind; the wilderness of graves. 

The evening of September 13, the lofty Arch of 
Ctesiphon showed for hours as we toiled along the 
winding reaches; in the first gold and chill winds 
of dawn on the I4th we watched it recede. On 
the I8th I reached Beled, ' The Home of the Devil,' 
as the Arabs call it, where the Manchesters dragged 
out a panting existence, battling with dust-storms. 
In the station I was shocked to see what vandalism 
had been at work. The broken glass had been 
cleared away; in the tin shed where we had drunk 
tea amid the flying shrapnel on that Easter evening 
new panes had been put in; the water-tower had 
been replaced. With dusk I reached Samarra, 
and set Keely's mind at rest on the Greek girl 
question. 
Through October Fritz came daily, photographing. 
The sole rays in a dreary protraction of existence 
were afforded by the Intelligence Summaries, 
run by Captain Lang, a versatile and popular 
humorist. Deserters reported that at a certain 
place the enemy's staff consisted of only one lame 
Turk and one 'powerful Christian.' The "powerful 



118 SUMMER AND WAITING 

Christian' had fo do all the work, and was pre- 
paring for a hegira fo our lines. Then we 
had exchanged prisoners recently, sending back 
eight wounded men, one having but one leg. On 
reaching the Turco lines, when we offered fo give 
these wounded a further lift of some mlles, the 
offer was accepted with cringing gratitude. 
'Intelligence' surmised that these wounded might 
have to walk fo Mosul, another hundred and forty 
toiles, and went into reverie on the situation's 
possibilities. 'If the one-legged man has any 
influential friends in Constantinople, we may 
expect fo hear shortly of a Turkish Commission 
in Iraq.' That was the rime when the Report of 
the Mesopotamian Commission came out. Though 
a revelation in England, if did not excite us, who 
knew its facts long before. Then letters from 
the enemy G.H.Q. fo General Maude had had his 
naine and address printed on the envelope. This, 
'Intelligence' thought, was sheer, outstanding 
swank, fo show us that the Turks had af least one 
lithograph. 
Late in September out second attempt on 
Ramadie met with complete success, whën General 
Brooking captured the nucleus of a projected 
offensive against us. We by Tigris rejoiced, know- 
ing, too, that out task, when if came, would be 
the easier. 
The ISt Guides joined the division in place of 
the 'Bo-Peeps.' The brigades went out on recon- 
naissance frequently. September 25 saw one of 
these shows, which included a sham fight. The 
day was very hot, and Haigh's stretcher-bearers 
complained of the inconsiderate conduct of the 



SUMMER AND WAITING 119 

thirty-one ' casualties.' ' Unfortunately there were 
no dead among them.' However, as one S.B. 
added, ' fortunately a good many died of wounds.' 
The 'died of wounds' were formed into platoons, 
and marched off the field of action. 
The stretcher-bearer who ruade the remark 
about the 'died of wounds' was a particular 
friend of mine, who had a great gift of happy 
phrasing, illustrated in the words I bave quoted. 
Once we had a long talk about the old battles, 
and, speaking of a common friend who had been 
killed, he observed, 'I do think it dreadful, his 
being killed like thatkilled outright.' I never 
got af his notion of what ruade a cushy death; 
probably something Mexican or early mediaeval. 
Through October my diary notes little but 
services and a terrible lecture on Mesopotamian 
history, which, from first fo last, I delivered over 
fifty rimes. Lattefly envious tongues alleged that 
I had to ask units for a parade when I gave this 
lecture. But those who said this lied saucily and 
shamelessly. 



VI 

HUWESLET ; OR, ' THE BATTLE OF JUBER 
ISLAND' 

lqight's blackness touched with red; 
A cock's shrill clanon ringing; 
Clamours for ' ruddy' buckets, Diamond's t bray; 
Grousing of Johnson' tumbled out of bed; 
And Fowke's falsetto, singing 
'Is if nothing to you ?' 
So the battalion wakes, fo march away 
Heaven knows how far into the blue, 
Heaven knows how many weary miles fo do, 
Till stars within some nulla watch us lie, 
Worshipping sleep, while the icy hours drag by. 

OCTO]3IR 22 was the date when Johnny develoFed 
unheard-of cheek. His patrols appeared by the 
river, one fellow riding along our wire and slashing 
it with his sword. Then from x p.m. onwards he 
shelled both banks of the river, haç'ing pushed 
down rom his advanced post at Daur, a dozen 
toiles away, with a couple of hundred cavalry, 
several machine-guns, and light field-guns. The 
Guides and our cavalry were reported to bave lost 
men and horses; and G.A., on picket, sent word 
that the Turks were digging themselves in. A and 
i The regimental (four-footed) donkey. Th¢ Leicestershires' 
hatbadge is a black diamond. 
* Needls to say, we had no « Johnson.' 
o 



HUWESLET i2I 

C Companies of the Leicestershires were out all 
day. 
On the 23rd shelling continued, and that evening 
the division Inoved out. At the officers' Ineeting 
we vere told that a force, estilnated at four thousand 
Turks and several guns, was digging in. We were 
to do twelve thousand two hundred yards north, 
and then seven thousand rive hundred yards balf- 
rig'at, to get behind theln. This was the 28th 
Br:gxde. The 8th and I9th Brigades, starting 
later, vere fo Inake a frontal attack af 4 a.ln. ; 
out brigade were to enfilade the Turk when bolted ; 
and these united efforts were to drive hiln into the 
dead ground by the river, and there, as the schelne 
wittily put it, out artillery and Inachine-guns 
would 'deal with hiln.' Whoever drew up the 
plan was not only bloody-lninded but oblivious of 
long experience, assulning thus that John was 
such a very silnple person. 
We Inoved off just before dark, raising a white 
dust. Through all our wide detour there were 
strict injunctions against slnoking, enforced alnong 
the Leicestershires, ignored alnong Inacbine-gunners 
and Indian drivers. Never can night-inarch ha-e 
been noisier. At every halt the Inules sang down 
the whole length of the line ; signallers and gunners 
clattered past. About Inidnight a stranger was 
seen talking to solne drabis. 1 A Leicestershire 
sergeant, colning up, said, 'Hullo, it's a bloody 
Turk.' Hearing hilnself identified. Johnny turned 
round and saluted. He was led to the proper 
authorities, and proved to be a Turkish cadet. 
He was arrned with a penknife and a pair of gloves. 
 ld_a,n dfiverso 



122 HUWESLET 

The night was bitterly cold. At 3.30 a.m. we 
'rested.' We had reached what in Mesopotamia 
would be considered well-wooded country, an 
upland studded with bushes. Just on dawn we 
rose, with teeth chattering and limbs numbed 
with contact with the cold ground, and nloved on. 
Our planes appeared, scouring the sky; and a 
few odd bursts of rifle-fire were heard about 7 a.m. 
We had now reached the edge of the dead ground 
against the river, and looked down to Tigris, as in 
later days I bave looked down to the Jordan. 
The doctor and I were told to set up out aid-post 
in a deep nulla there, and wait on events. A 
report came from our air-folk that rive thousand 
Turks were on Juber Island, opposite Huweslet. 
We moved steadily forward to the attack, steadily 
but unbelievingly. Unbelief rose to positive 
derision, for as we topped a slight brow we gave 
a target no artillery could bave resisted, yet nothing 
happened. 'It's a trap,' said Fowke darkly; 
' he's luring us on.' Why should John lie doggo 
in this fashion ? Nevertheless the airmen insisted 
that the Turks were there. So we dug ourselves 
in, in a semicircle facing the island, preliminary to 
attacking it. It was noon, hot and maddening 
with flies. The Leicestershires sent scouts out, 
who pushed up to Juber Island, and found that 
there were indeed rive thousand there--five 
thousand sheep and several Arab shepherds. On 
the opposite bank John had a machine-gun, with 
which he sniped those who approached the water. 
He killed mules, and wounded several bhisties 1 
and a sweeper. There were also people sniping 
t Indian water-carriert. 



HUWESLET 123 

with rifles, and the Indian regiments had casualties. 
On our side, the cavalry brought in a prisoner. 
We had the young gentleman caught at night, 
and one other; the Igth Brigade took a fourth 
prisoner. So we abandoned the battle, had break- 
fast at 2.3o p.m., and returned. The day was 
wearying beyond conception, yet the men, British 
and Indian alike, were singing as they passed 
A1-Ajik. Samarra camp was a swirl of dust after 
the day's busyness; almost a faery place in the 
last sunlight. 
The next day was dedicated to sleep, and to 
humour at the expense of the Royal Flying Corps, 
to whose mess a sheep's head was voted. 



Vil 

DAUR 

JOHNNY'S leg-pull ruade him one up. This xvas 
recognized, and his action drew our attention to 
the undesirability of allowing him to remain at 
Daur. On October 31 the 28th Brigade went 
into the trenches at A1-Ajik. November I was 
Thursday. Haigh had the misfortune to go very 
sick on this day ; he left us, and his successor arrived 
about 4 p.m. The new doctor fell into my hands, 
as the battalion was unknown to him, and he had 
never been in action. 
As we went forward bad news came in, so bad 
and unexpected that it seemed incredible, the news 
of the Italian reverses. This fiHed us xdth profound 
depression. Out tiny side-show seemed more 
insignificant than ever xvhile the European battle 
was being lost. When word followed of Allenby's 
success at 13eersheba we did hot guess that here 
was the beginning of a ride of victory which would 
ultimately pull the whole war out way. There 
was one splinter of light, an absurd joke in Londo 
Opinion which set the Leicestershires chuc'kling, 
'Overheard at the Zoo.' It is the conversation 
of Cockney children before the ostrich cage: 
' Sneagle ! ' 
• Snotaneagle. Snork.' 



DA UR 125 

' Snotanork. Snowl.' 
' Snotanowl. Snostrich.' 
This lent itself fo indefinite expansion : ' Snemeu,' 
' Snalbatross,' ' Snoriole,' ' Snelephant.' 
Report came of the exploit of Marshall ai Corps 
Head Quarters. He had gone out in a 'lamb ' 
on the other bank of Tigris, almost to Tekrit, and 
had shot down thirty horses and a dozen men as 
he flew past the enemy lines. 
On the evening of November I the A1-Ajik 
trenches v«ere crowded. Fritz came over recon- 
noitring, and his surprise was anmsing to see. 
He checked, wheeled, abandoned all thought of a 
visit to out camp, and beetled back, after very 
elaborate reconnaissance. Then out own planes 
flew over, sounding their klaxons and dropping 
messages, in rehearsal for the morrow. 
At 9.1o the force met at the place of assembly. 
The 2Ist Brigade were to move up the left bank; 
they are hardly in this picture. On the right 
bank the 28th Brigade went first, followed by 
the I9th and 8th Brigades. With the column 
were the 4th and 9th Brigades, R.F.A., two batteries 
of the 56th Brigade, and some 4.5 and 6-inch 
howitzers. Altogether, including those operating 
on the left bank, we had eighty guns. 
The night was even colder than the one belote 
the Juber Island farce. Part of the night I marched 
with my friends of the 53rd Sikhs, v«ith Newitt 
and with Heathcote. Every one anticipated a 
very hard fight. We were up against a position 
which was reputed to be as strong as Istabulat 
had been. Before dawn we found ourselves among 
 Light-armoured motor-battery. 



r6 DA UR 

ghostly-looking bushes, and lay down for one 
shivering hour. We had marched over seventeen 
toiles, with the usual exhausting checks and halts 
attendant on night-marching, and we were dead- 
beat to the wide. Yet nothing could be finer than 
the way the men threw weariness away, like a 
garment, with the first shells, and went into battle. 
Sarcka, the excellent Yank who ran our Y.M.C.A., 
marched with us, carrying a camel-load of cigarettes. 
He was usually called 'Carnegie' by Dr. Haigh. 
That classical mind memorized Sarcka's naine as 
meaning 'flesh'; then, since it moved with equal 
ease in Greek and Latin, unconsciously trans- 
literated. As we went forward, and a red sun 
rose over Tigris, Sarcka remarked : 'The sensation 
I ara about to go through is one which I wouldn't 
miss for worlds.' Mester Dobson looked surprised. 
I bided my time, knov«ing how unpleasant the first 
fifteen minutes under shell-fire are for even the 
bravest. 
Soon after 6 a.m. the enemy advanced pickets 
were driven in. We were advancing in artillery 
formation over undulating and broken country, 
sparsely set with jujube-bushes (zizyphus). A 
gazelle bounded avay in front of us. At 6.15, 
says my diary, the first shells came. Our planes 
swept along, Maxons sounding, and the sky became 
torn with shrapnel. Johnny felt for us who formed 
the doctor's retinue, felt with an H.E. bracket, 
before and beyond us. The advance was extra- 
ordinarily rapid, a race; consequently the doctor's 
party got the benefit of most of this early shelling. 
Fortunately the enemy seemed to bave got on to 
his old dumps, for his stuff, ,«hich came over 



DA UR 7 

plentifully enough, was detonating badly. A shell 
burst in Lyons's platoon, apparently under Lyons; 
yet he walked out of the dust unhurt. The 56th 
Rifles went first, advancing as if on parade; this 
day they rose high in the Leicestershires' admira- 
tion. The 'Tigers' came next; then the 5Ist and 
53rd Sikhs. The enerny was fairly caught by 
surprise. Fritz, the previous day, had brought 
back the first hint that anything was doing ; and, 
despite that knowledge, it was hot expected that 
match and fight would corne so swiftly and together. 
If the doctor stopped to bandage a man, we had 
to run to keep touch with the regirnent. I was 
worried with visions of pockets of fifty or sixty 
wounded awaiting attention. Very early in the 
fight we found two rnen hit with shrapnel, and 
left thern in the shell-hole. It was suggested to 
Sarcka that he stay with theln, and guide the 
ambulances along out track whenever they carne. 
'No,' he said sturdily, 'I'rn going on." And go 
on he did, and was shortly afterwards distributing 
cigarettes under heavy tire. Public opinion had 
condernned his corning, for the soldier holds that 
no man should go under tire unless he bas a definite 
job there. But when he justified his place by a 
score of deeds, frorn cigarette-distributing to 
bandaging the wounded, public opinion rejoiced 
and accepted him, known for a comrade and a 
brave man. 
Along the plain the enerny had a nurnber of 
large thorn-stacks, with sand-bagged seats in their 
centres. Here had been snipers. These stacks 
we avoided ; as we did, as a rule, all such things as 
battalion head quarters. The colonel of a regirnent 



. I28 DA UR 

moves with a small army of orderlies ; his majestic 
appearance over a brow rarely fails to draw a few 
salvoes. The doctor's meinie, therefore, took their 
way along the open, avoiding all prominences 
of landscape and people. I turned aside to what 
proved to be a 56th Rifles' aid-post, with a dead 
horse before it. Here had been the first Turkish 
lines. Our guns pushed on very rapidly, the gunners 
riding swiftly by and into a large, deep nulla. We 
overpassed them again; -there was one smart 
minute or so when half a dozen 'pipsqueaks' 
burst in a narrow fault of the ground, scarcely a 
nulla, beside us, the steep sides killing the spread 
of the H.E. The enemy had been shrapnelling 
hard along the line occupied by the 56th Rifles 
and the Leicestershires. Nevertheless we picked 
up very few wounded. 
Johnny's shrapnel now began to get wilder 
still. We found Colonel ]3rock, the Leicestershires' 
colonel, where several wide, big nullas met. The 
battalion was digging in, he said. About thirty 
prisoners came over a hill behind us. VVe set up 
an aid-post, our first stationary one; Sarcka pro- 
duced a tin of Maconochie, and we had tiflîn. A 
few wounded Indians came, the first being a man 
trom whose pocket-book we extracted a shrapnel 
bullet. He had no other hurt. 
The colonel was puzzled at our few casualties. 
There had been hot only a good deal of shrapnel, 
but heavy rifle and machine-gun tire, yet hardly 
a man had been hit. The fight was nearly over, 
so I went back for ambulances. John was throwing 
a certain amount of explosive stuff about, uselessly 
and recklessly. On my way back I round Owen, 



DA UR 129 

of the 5Ist Sikhs, with a wounded arm. Owen, 
long ago, lost an eye in a bombing accident at 
Sannaiyat. He pluckily returned from India, 
and again took over the work of bombing instructor 
to his regiment. 
It was now getting hot, being well past nine 
o'clock. 
In the trenches by the 56th's aid-post there were 
two Turks, each with a leg smashed to pulp by 
H.E. But the most distressing sight was an enemy 
sniper on one of the O. Pips already mentioned. 
Round him were many used c rtridges and bandoliers. 
He sat among the thorns, eight feet above ground, 
with the impassive mien of a Buddha. His face 
had been broken by our shrapnel, and his brains 
were running down it; the flies were busy on a 
clot of red brain by his temple. He was one mess 
of blood, and very heavy as well as high up. My 
efforts to lift him down simply stained my clothes. 
About 4 p.m. I was with a doctor, looking at a 
dead Turk who was a particularly gruesome sight, 
with blood still dripping from his nose. Suddenly 
appeared a merchant with a camera, who took this 
Turk's photo. Not satisfied with this, he pro- 
ceeded to stage-manage the place. The ambulance 
was coming up to remove a wounded Turk. He 
ordered it back, then bade it run up smartly, while 
the man was to be lifted in, equally smartly. Then 
he bade the doctor and myself stand behind the 
dead Turk aforementioned. When he went, 
the doctor said, 'Thank God, he's gone.' I took 
the man, in my carelessness, for another doctor 
with a taste for horrible pictures, and it was not 
till some rime after that I realized he was the 
I 



x3o DA UR 

official cinematograph operator, and was merely 
doing his job. So, somewhere or other, a film bas 
been exhibited, 'Wounded being collected on 
Mesopotamian battlefields.' 
Going back fo the l"urkish sniper, who was still 
on his stack and had been overlooked by the 
cinematograph operator, I found that, in his agony, 
he had dug a hole in the thç.rns, and buried his 
head; I suppose, fo escape the /lies. His legs 
were waving feebly. It was right he should be 
left fo the last, as he had no chance of lire, and 
nothing could be done for him in any way. But 
never did I feel more the utter folly and silly cruelty 
of war than when I saw this brave man's misery. 
Next morning he was found fo have craxvled some 
hundreds of yards before dying. He had left his 
stack. 



VIII 

AUJEH 

OUR line was where the plateau rose and then 
dropped steeply into deep, narrow fissures. "I'he 
night was maddening with cold, and the rum 
ration came as a sheer necessity. All through 
this brief Tekrit campaign the British troops 
were without coats or blankets. "rhe Indian 
troops had transport for theirs. "rhe arrange- 
ment was correct in theory, since we came from 
a chill climate. 
None of these later lV[esopotamian pushes could 
be much more than raids. The rivers in this 
latitude were too shallow and shifting for transport, 
so we had to be fed and watered by means of Ford 
cars. It taxed the vhole of the army's resources 
in Fords for "rekrit, blankets and coats having to 
give vay to rations. Whilst the 7th Division 
pushed, the other two fronts were practically 
immobilized. 5Iaude could strike on only one 
at a rime of our three rivers. Ramadie was fought 
in September; "rekrit in November; Kifri in 
December; and the same round, of Euphrates, 
Tigris, and Diyaleh, was followed in x9xS. 
So we had ten days of what seemed arctic 
exposure. This night after Daur, Diggins shared 
a Burberry with me; natheless the night 



I3 A U]EH 

was one of insane wretchedness. We rejoiced, 
with more than Vedic joy, to greet the dawn, 
though the flies swiftly ruade us long for night 
again. 
On the 3rd we moved slightly forward. My 
brigade rested, while the I9th went on. The 
enemy's lines at Aujeh were taken easily. One 
wounded Turk was captured. He was set on a 
horse, and paraded restlessly back and forward, 
for some mystic reason, during the day. Fowke's 
solution was that the authorities hoped the troops 
would count him many rimes over, and been heartened 
by the thought that we had destroyed the Turks' 
last force in Mesopotamia. When the Aujeh 
lines had been taken, our cavalry, supported by 
the artillery, tfied to rush Tekrit and burn the 
stores. This proved impracticable, so we shelled 
the dumps at long range. My brigade stood by, 
and watched from a high plateau the bursts and 
the great smoke-curtains which went up, as once 
from burning Sodom. The affair furnished Fowke 
with some excellent fooling. He would stand on 
a knoll and gnash his teeth, in Old Testament 
fashion declaiming, 'I will neither wash nor shave 
till Tekrit bas fallen.' It is unnecessary fo say 
that the vow was kept, and overkept; and hot 
by Fowke alone. At other rimes he was plaintive 
and reproachful. We were shelling Tekrit-- 
Tekrit, the Turkish base, where the Turkish 
hospitals were, and' the pretty little Turkish nurses.' 
' You chaps don't think about these things. You're 
selfish, and don't care. I do.' 
The desultory fighting of this day was hot without 
casualties. The I9th Brigade lost fifty-six Inen 



A UJEH x33 

up to 2 p.m. ; later I heard the figures were fourteen 
killed and seventy-three wounded. These were 
hot in the 'taking' of the single line of Aujeh 
trenches, but came from long-distance shell-fire. 
The cavalry, too, lost men. The enemy slipped 
out on our coming, but their guns had the line 
beautifully registered. In the evening the 28th 
Brigade covered the cavalry's return. We had 
our own work as well. Fourteen shell-ammunition 
dumps fell into our hands by the enemy's retreat 
from Daur. These we collected, and quantities 
of shell-cases and wood. The Turkish gunners 
had most elaborate and comfortably-made dug- 
outs, finely timbered. These were dismantled 
and fired. We marched in, with the hills 
ablaze about us, and the darkness warm and 
bright. 
The 4th was Sunday. Fritz appeared about 
6.30 a.m., and bombed us, coming very low indeed. 
Mesopotamia being a side-show for us, the enemy 
usually had at least one machine better than any 
of ours. This Sabbath Fritz spent in fetching 
bombs and distributing them. Twice he bombed 
the Leicestershires in the Turks' old trenches, 
but hit no one. So he paid no more attention 
to the infantry, but looked up the artillery, and 
the wagon-lines, and the transport. Here he 
did a deal of damage, and we soon had horses 
careering madly about the place. Reports came 
that the Turks were advancing. So, though no 
one dreamed that they would make a serious 
attack, we consolidated the last lines of the Daur 
position against them. 
My diary notes: 'Rum ration. Flies.' For 



such elemental things had existence become 
memorable. 
The day was cheered by news of the Gaza 
successes, as the previous day had been by that 
of Beersheba. 
Fritz occupied his afternoon and evening in the 
same disreputable fashion. At nightfall our 
authorities were debating whether to go on to 
Tekrit or fall back to Samarra. Diggins, the 
fire-eater, hoped earnestly for the former course, 
and laid confident bets that it would be. Our 
brigadier, when I ran across him, deplored that 
in April we had stopped at Samarra, though he 
had urged our going on fo Tekrit (or anywhere 
else where there were Turks). 
Orders came. We were to fall back two mlles, 
then sweep westward, and on to Tekrit. Fo,«ke 
reiterated his engagement not to shave or wash 
till Tekrit had fallen ; and we burned, with reluctant 
glee, the excellent wood that Johnny Turk had 
collected against our coming to Daur. Now in 
iXlesopotamia wood is far, far more precious than 
rubies. But this wood had to be burned, since 
we were not coming back. So vast and glorious 
rires sprang up. And each hero, in his turn lifting 
a long beam, like a phalarica, hurled if at the 
blaze. The assembled Trojans cheered, with 
admiration or derision, according as each shot 
fell accurately or short. In this vise, then, did 
Sunday evening pass with the I7th Foot. 



IX 

TEKRIT 

WE moved off, footsore. Mention of the cold 
rnust have become monotonous. But this night's 
cold touched a sharper nerve of agony than any 
before. Our 'rest' came, by a refinement of 
cruelty, not immediately before dawn, but between 
2.30 and 4.3 ° a.m. We were then on bleak uplands, 
swept by arctic winds. In t3aghdad winter is a 
time of frost ; and we were far north of t3aghdad. 
No men lay down ; very few even stood still. The 
rnajority used the two hours of 'rest' in running 
to and fro, and it was with immense thankfulness 
that ve took up our trudge once more. 
This time there was no question of surprise. 
Morning found us on a vast plain, set with yellow- 
berried jujube-bushes and low scrub. Shortly 
after 6 a.m. the enemy began shelling our trans- 
port, which accordingly moved out of range. My 
brigade fell slightly back, in conformity. Captain 
McIntyre, in a gloomy mood perhaps due to the 
freezing night just finished, prophesied that we 
should get the 'heavy stuff' and the 'overs' 
when once the enemy gunners got their nefarious 
gaine fairly going. Everything was bustle. 
Signallers set up their posts, Head Quarters were 
established, caterpillars crawled up with their 



x36 TEKRIT 

heavy guns. Lieutenant-General Cobbe, the First 
Corps commander, was controlling operations. 
Fritz also seemed interested. He came over 
twice, very low and very hurriedly, but did no 
bombing,. His second visit was followed by hall 
a dozen crumps, from the 5.9's, for our 6-inch 
guns. 
This whole campaign had corne very suddenly. 
Corps, I was told, were ignorant up to almost the 
day of out starting out from Samarra. Staff- 
captains and quartermasters received orders af 
the eleventh hour for transport arrangements. 
The campaign was a tour de force, everything 
being sacrificed to rations and water. A stream 
of Fords ran night and day between the troops and 
Samarra. 
My brigade had a day of inaction, being, moved 
up from time to time, and momentarily expecting 
to be sent in. The 2Ist Brigade had moved up 
the left bank, meeting with no opposition. Their 
part was enfilade gunfire. Our old colleagues, 
the 8th Brigade (from the 3rd Lahore Division), 
and the I9th Brigade attacked. The battle was 
largely one of gunfire. For such an exhibition 
Guy Fawkes' Day had been fitly chosen. 
Tekrit was one of the Turk's best battles in the 
class of which he is such a toaster, the rearguard 
action. Our airmen reported that, from our 
arrival, his troops and transport were flowing away 
steadily. His lines were held by artillery and 
machine-guns, fearlessly worked to the last minute 
of safety. Our cavalry operated on the left. It 
was here the action broke down. At this point 
there was only one line of trenches against us, 



TEKRIT 37 

and many think the 28th Brigade should bave been 
sent in. Had this been done, the enemy right 
would bave been forced back, and his troops pinned 
to the river, with large captures of men and guns 
as result. But the 28th Brigade were kept out, 
because of a cavalry mistake. The latter's orders 
were to drop one brigade on the flank, and then 
push through to the river, behind the enemy. 
Then the 28th Brigade were to go in, and, when 
they had cleared the Turks out of their entrench- 
ments, the cavalry were to collect the prisoners. 
But, instead, the cavalry, after dropl:ng a brigade 
to watch the flank, waited, and finaliy did a very 
gallant but useless charge. 
The terrain was extremely difficult. Almost 
the first thing the assaulting forces had to do was 
to cross a nulla sixty feet deep and a quarter of 
a mile wide, commanded by machine-guns, and 
searched with shrapnel. Later, when my own 
brigade moved up in support, we crossed this 
nulla. The toilsome going over slipping shingle 
was like Satan's painful steps on the burning marl, 

hot like those steps 
On Heaven's azure, and the torrid clime 
Smote on him sore besides, vaulted with tire. 

The story of this day belongs to the 8th and I9th 
Brigades. My own were spectators only; deeply 
interested, and our own fate might at any moment 
become involved, but harassed with heat and 
flies and the unspeakable boredom born of 
long warfare, which even a battle can disperse 
only in part. Stories filtered through of the heroic 
work of the Seaforths and Manchesters and of the 



'38 TEKRIT 

47th and 59th Sikhs. Report persisted that the 
Seaforths' head quarters had been knocked out 
by a direct hit, with twelve casualties, and that 
their regimental sergeant-major (Sutherland) was 
killed. This rumour was partly true, but a little 
exaggerated. Their colonel (Reginald Schomberg) 
was wounded, and their adjurant (McRae). This 
was the McRe who had fought the Turks with 
his naked fists af Sheikh Saad in January, 1916, 
and who rose from sergeant-major to Lieutenant- 
Colonel, with D.S.O. and Bar. Sutherland was 
hot killed, but wounded. Lee, the Seaforths' 
padre, kept up the tradition set by Dr. Ewing, 
that 'unsubduable old Roman' whose white 
locks had waved through so many battles, till he 
was wounded at the forcing of Baghdad. Burn, 
the one Seaforths' offlcer killed, out of twelve hit, 
was struck close behind Lee. Milne and Baldry 
were killed among the Manchesters' offlcers. 
From lO.3o fo II a.m. was a rime of artillery 
preparation. Fritz drifted restlessly about; out 
own planes were busy ; klaxons sounded ; messages 
were dropped. According to information, opposite 
us the Turkish 5Ist and 52nd Divisions were 
unsupported. Both were old foes of Sannaiyat 
days. By 11.3o the enemy's first two lines were 
taken by direct assault. At 3 p.m. my own brigade 
moved two toiles closer in, on the left. If was a 
costly business, pushing the enemy back by frontal 
attack just where he was strongest in every way. 
Long lines of out wounded passed us, with a few 
Turkish prisoners. The day was as intolerably 
hot as the night had been cold. By four o'clock 
the Turk had got most o5 his heavier guns back. 



TEKRI T ,r39 

We were shelling a small mosque, which he was 
using as an O.P. The 6-inches registered a hit, 
which sent up a white cloud of dust and powder. 
Every one was hopeful. The cavalry and ' lambs ' 
were said to be right round the enemy's flank, and 
some thousands of prisoners were regarded as 
certain. Captain Henderson, the Diggins of the 
Manchesters, was rumoured to have taken three 
guns. At 4.30 the 2ist Brigade launched an 
effective enfilade on the enemy's transport from 
across the river; the two attacking brigades went 
in again; the cavalry charged across the Turks' 
right trenches. We of the 28th could watch it 
all with the naked eye, the one confusion being 
sometimes as to whether it was Turks scurrying 
away or Seaforths going in. But we saw the 
Seaforths' magnificent charge. Unfortunately 
most of the crumps which we took to be among 
a Turkish counter-attack were among our own 
men, who at one time tan into their own barrage. 
Their line swept forward, irresistible as always. 
In later days, in Palestine, when a despatch praised 
various miscellaneous troops who had been in 
their first actions and done not too badly, some 
one was foolish enough to express surprise that 
the Seaforths were not mentioned by naine. 'I 
should consider it an insult,' said their colonel, 
'if any one thought it worth mentioning that my 
regiment had done what they were told to do. 
We take some things for granted.' At Tekrit 
Schomberg, though already wounded, led his men 
in person. He was scholar and Christian; 'the 
bravest of the brave,' yet a lover of all fair 
things. 



I4o TEKRIT 

As the Turks ran froin their trenches out Inachine- 
guns cut them up. Rumour now grew positive 
that we had the enemy hemmed against the river. 
Evening closed with a deal of desultory gunfire, which 
continued spasmodically all night. My brigade 
went fo rest, in anticipation of a renewal of battle 
next dawn, when our turn would be due. The 
ambulances had worked nobly all day, cars sweep- 
ing up fo x'ell within shell-range; and all night 
long stretcher-bearer parties were busy. Their 
work was superintended by Captain Godson, whose 
Ii.C. was well earned. 
Tekrit cost us about two thousand casualties. 
Many of the wounded collected in the 19 C.C.S. 1 
af Samarra had been wounded by aeroplane bombs. 
Next morning our orders of the previous night 
were confirmed. The enemy were supposed fo 
be holding the ' kilns ' (actually these were tombs) 
behind Tekrit. The 28th ]3rigade x'ere fo go 
through the 8th and I9th ]3rigades, and drive 
them out. We were very doubtful of their being 
there. Ho¥ever, we x'ent forward in the usual 
artillery forination. Every house in Tekrit had 
a white flag. This was the place whereTownshend's 
inen were spat on as they limped through if, prisoners. 
Nevertheless there was the saine surprising dis- 
play of fairly clean linen fo which the villages 
before ]3aghdad had treated us eight months 
previously, and the Arabs v«ere most anxious for 
us fo realize how extremely friendly their sentiinents 
were. 
We went folavard, but round the Turks had 
gone. There were cruinp-holes e,«erywhere; the 
1 Casualty clearing-station. 



TEKRIT x4x 

amount of our shrapnel lying about, wasted, 
would have broken a Chancellor of the Exchequer's 
heart. Parts of the spaces between the Turkish 
successive lines were just contiguous craters. ]3ut 
there had been disappointingly few direct hits on 
trenches. The cemetery, hard by, possessed one 
or two craters also. The enemy had left abundant 
live shells, shell-cases, cartridge-cases. ]3ut there 
were very few dead. I saw only two; and a few 
places where the parapet had been pulled in for 
a hasty burial. The old question was raised, Did 
the Turk dig graves beforehand, against an action, 
to hide his losses? If he did, one can imagine 
few more effective 'ays of putting heart into his 
troops than by detailing them for such a job. I 
heard that the Seaforths buried sixty Turks. ]3ut 
their losses were certainly far less than ours. We 
took a hundred and fifty-seven prisoners. Corps 
claimed that evidence collected after the battle 
showed that the enemy losses for the three actions 
of Daur, Aujeh, Tekrit, 'ere af least fifteen hundred. 
The Infantry, who had not access to Corps' means 
of information, assessed them much lower. Myself, 
I think eight hundred would be nearer the mark. 
There were great heaps of cartridge-cases, at 
intervals of fifty yards, along the trenches, -here 
machine-gunners had clearly been. The spaces 
betveen showed little sign of having been held. 
From the Turk's point of view, Tekrit was as 
satisfactory a battle almost as, from out point of 
view, it vas unsatisfactory. His gunners and 
machine-gunners fought ith very great skill 
and coolness, withdra-ing late and rapidly ; hence 
the great dumps of shell-ammunition which were 



x4 TEKRIT 

our only booty. We should have got the whole 
force. But no sufficient barrage was kept up on 
the lines of retreat during the night ; the cavalry's 
service, though gallant, was ineffective ; the 28th 
Brigade were not used at the one point where 
they might have done the enemy much harm; 
and Head Quarters were too far back. The Turks 
got every gun and machine-gun away. We 
captured a hundred boxes of field-gun ammunition, 
four hundred rifles, rive thousand wooden beams, 
gun-limbers, boats, bridging material, buoys, two 
aeroplanes (one utterly broken up by the enemy, 
the other repairable), and a box of propellers, all 
serviceable. The enemy blew up three ammunition 
dumps before retreating. 
Fowke had dragged through the campaign ith 
a crocked knee. He now went into hospital. 
There J. Y., who always anxiously haunted all 
battle-purlieus, fearing for the regiment he loved 
so well, round him; and, since he was not ill, obtained 
permission to feed him with some of the battalion's 
Christmas pudding, just arrived. He refreshed 
him, too, with Içirin beer. Thus J. Y.'s last glimpse 
of him--for Fowke did not return to the battalion 
kwas a happy one. 
These days were very wretched. Turkish camps 
are unbelievably filthy; and flies swarmed on the 
battlefield. We salvaged some toiles up beyond 
Tekrit, with the results already stated. One of 
the two captured planes was a recovered one of 
our own, with the enemy black painted o'«er our 
sign. We had a lot of very enjoyable destruction, 
including that of the musketry school and barracks, 
four toiles away. 



TEKRIT x43 

Tekrit's chief faine is that Saladin was born 
just outside it. But it was also an early Christian 
centre; the town wall is said to be partly the old 
monastery wall. The town is built on cliffs, which 
tower very steeply above the Tigris. The 
inhabitants were keen on trade, taking anything 
'not too hot or too heavy' ; but were unpleasant 
and exorbitant beyond any Arabs, even of 
Mesopotamia. 
We now held both the Tigris and the Euphrates 
ends of the caravan route to Hit. G.A. opined 
that we should drive the enemy in from both 
ends, till both British forces were shelling each 
other. However, the Turk ran some seventy 
mlles farther; and out planes did great bombing 
raids on their camp in the Jebel Hamrin, having 
the joy of using some of the enemy's own bombs. 
On the 8th I got a lift back to Samarra on a 
Ford, for the purpose of sending up food and cern- 
forts to the battalion. This kindly purpose was 
never fulfilled. I went sick, but had more sensethan 
to go to hospital this rime ; and the troops returned 
from Tekrit. The Leicestershires on route put 
up a large hyena, but failed to run him down. 
My premature return became a famous taunt. 
'He deserted,' Diggins would say when foiled 
in fair argument; ' deserted from Tekrit, deserted 
in face of the enemy.' 
The troops were back at Samarra by the I3th. 
'Ah!' Busra surmised, 'they've had a bad knock. 
" Withdrawn on account of difficulty of com- 
munications." We know that story.' It was 
as after the April fighting, when the wildest 
distortions were believed down the line, and when 



144 TEKRIT 

I vas asked in confidence by an officer formerly 
with the Leicestershires if it was true that his old 
regiment had lost eighteen of out own guns. 
Nearly every one was seedy for a while, with 
chills on the stomach and sore feet; and a great 
wave of depression passed over the division. We 
would have ruade any effort to hold Tekrit after 
out toil and losses. But the Fords vere needed 
for another front. So Jolnny, after a time, was 
able to creep cautiously back, to the extent of 
cavalry patrols at Daur and Tekrit. 



X 

DOWN T0 BUSRA 

EVENTS moved rapidly for the division. The 
brigades scattered down the line, and H.Q. went to 
Akab, near the supposed site of Opis. The 2Ist 
Brigade went across the river. Only the Leicester- 
shires remained at Samarra, and even they sent one 
company to Istabulat. Out other three companies 
went to the station. The 3rd Division took over 
Istabulat and Samarra. The conviction took foot 
that we were leaving the country. 
On the I9th General Maude's death was told. A 
pack of rumours came as to how he had corne to die, 
and as to how many others had died. His funeral 
took place in Baghdad ; Fritz attended and dropped 
a message of sympathy. Mistaking his purpose 
when he flew so low, the archies fired on him. Also, 
for once, they are said to have nearly hit him. 
Knowledge of the magnitude of the Italian 
reverses filtered in. Out Baghdad Anzac wireless 
heard 'one hundred thousand prisoners,' when the 
German wireless broke in, 'Hallo, hallo, hallo, 
Baghdad ! We can tell you later news. Itis three 
hundred thousand prisoners, two thousand rive 
hundred g-uns.' The enemy wireless possessed the 
code-naine of out own, and frequently broke in on 



146 DOWN TO BUSRA 

out messages with information, asking us fo acknow- 
ledge ; but this was forbidden. 
In December's first week the Kifri push took place. 
This was not the 7th Division's affair. The Third 
Corps had it in charge. We rationed them, which 
meant thirty-five miles of communications, up the 
left bank of the Tigris, into the sub-hills of the 
Persian borderlands. The 2oth Punjabis furnished 
dump-guards. These days I spent, exceedingly 
pleasantly, with the Guides in the Adhaim Valley. 
Here was a scene of exquisite loveliness. The 
Adllaim was dry ; but, in its deep bed, green lines 
showed where the water ran. The winter floods 
were even then beginning to gather higher up, and 
had reached to within a dozen mlles of the brook's 
junction with Tigris. The valley was thick jungle. 
There were no trees, but a most dense and luxuriant 
growth of tamarisk, popz«ls ephraIica, zizyphs and 
other thorns, forming a covert six to fourteen feet 
high. Liquorice grew freely. Wild pig abounded, 
hares, black partridge, and sisi. In my very brief 
stay I saw no pig ; but their signs were everywhere, 
and their water-holes in the river-bed bore marks 
of constant resort. The Adhaim was crossed by 
Nebuchadnezzar's great Nahrwan Canal. This was 
now, in effect, a deep nulla, and had silted in, so th:t 
its bottom was above the Adhaim bank. Its cliffs 
were tenanted with blue rock-pigeon, with hedge- 
hogs and porcupines. Shoals of mackerel-like fish 
used to swim up the Tigris, with fins skimming the 
surface. Erskine showed me how to shoot these; 
as, in later days, when we were in the Palestine line 
at Arsuf, I bave seen Diggins stunning fish with 
rifle-shots in the old Roman harbour. 



DOWN TO BUSRA I47 

In their Sainarra digging the Guides had found a 
stone statue, which is what they asked Ine up to 
see. The head and arins had been broken off, ob- 
viously deliberately; but it was plainly the Goddess 
Ishtar, with breasts reinaining. She was sitting 
before the Iness-tent, like Deineter before the House 
of Triptolemus. This discovery was of interest 
beyond itself. The books place Opis near Akab, 
apparently because the Adhaiin enters the Tigris 
opposite Akab. But, as I have said already, 
Kenneth Mason has accunmlated good reasons 
for placing Opis near Sainarra. With those 
reasons, this statue of Ishtar Inay take its 
place. The Samarra of history was not Inuch Inore 
than a standing cainp for caliphs in refuge Irom their 
true capital, Baghdad. But old Sainarra covers 
nearly twenty square miles of ruins upon ruins. 
Opis was a great mart ; and Salnarra, in the relics 
of Eski Baghdad, to the north, reaches almost to the 
Tigris end of the Tekrit-Hit caravan road. 
The Kifri push resulted in another withdrawal 
of the fight-weary John. He set Kifri coal-inine 
on tire, and it burned for soine days. We took a 
hundred and fifty prisoners and two field-guns. 
Though Russia was out of the war, a local force of 
Russians helped us. They were told they would find 
their rations in a certain place when they took it. 
They took it all right. 
I left the Guides, and went back to Beled, to Iny 
good ffiends of the 56th Brigade, R.F.A. On 
December 6 the I9th Infantry and the 56tll Artillery 
13rlgades received orders to Inove down-streain 
iinmediately. AIl caine suddenly; I was awakened 
by the striking of tents. On the 8th the Leicester- 



x48 DOWN TO BUSRA 

shires left Samarra. In less than six days they were 
in Baghdad. In those six days of marching they 
suffered terribly from cold, tain, and footsoreness. 
But they swung through Baghdad singing. The 
men of the Anzac wireless bought up oranges, and 
threw them to out fellows as they passed out of 
Baghdad to their camp at Hinaidi, two mlles below. 
Baghdad streets were frozen every morning; a 
bucket of water, put out overnight, would be almost 
solid next day. Nevertheless there were enough 
flies fo be an intolerable pest. When we passed the 
variously spelt station of Mushaidiyeh, Keely noted 
the script preferred by the railway, Mouchâhadie, 
and observed, ' Evidently it was connected in their 
mind with files; no doubt with good reason." 
Baghdad in winter is given up fo immense flocks 
of crows and starlingsand tothe ' Baghdad canary. '1 
No wild flowers were out, except a white alisma. 
We purchased 'goodly Babylonish garments,' the 
abbas for which the town is famous. Mine were sent 
home in an oil-sheet. The oil-sheet arrived, the 
postal-service satisfying themselves with looting 
the abbas. After all, men who have the monotony 
of service at the Base are entitled to indemnify 
themselves for the trouble to which men up the line 
put them. 
We got our last glimpse of Fritz on the I5th. He 
was over Baghdad, and was said fo bave dropped a 
message, 'Good-bye, 7th Division.' The country- 
side was stiff with troops moving up and down. 
Out destination was marrer of constant specula- 
tion. When orders to leave Beled reached the I9th 
Brigade, there came a wire from Divisional Head 
t The domesticass. 



DOWN TO BUSRA 149 

Quarters, 'Tell the padre to preach from Matthew 
twenty, verse eighteen.' But the 28th Brigade 
knew nothing of this hint to Lee. Some thought we 
were going to Ahwaz, and thence up to Persia; 
others held this Persian theory with a modification, 
that we should arrive up-country from Bushire. 
The favourite notion was that we were going to do 
another Gallipoli landing, behind Alexandretta. 
Some one got hold of a map, and announced that 
there were mountains there nine thousand feet 
high. 
On the ISth we embarked, and began our slow 
drift down the flooded, racing stream. We passed 
the old landmarks, so known and so remembered. 
On the 2oth »ve passed Kut, and knew that for most 
of us it was our farewell glimpse of the town that 
through so many dreadful months had seemed a 
place of faery, and inaccessible. 
1Red Autumn on the banks, 
V¢hcre, thorough fields that bear no grain, 
A desolate Mother treads, 
]By the brimming river, torn with tain ! 
A chill wind moves in the faded ranks 
Of the rushes, rumpling their russet heada. 
And out of the mist, on the racing stream 
As I drift, I know that there gathers fast, 
Over the lands I shall see no more, 
Another mist, which with lire shall last, 
Till all that I watched and my comradea bore 
Will be autumn mist, in an old man's dream. 
Here an Empire's might had agonized ; and many of 
us had buried more hopes than we shall cherish again. 
It rained, and kept on raining. Knowing what 
wretchedness this meant on shore, we were glad of 
the crowded shelter of out P-boat, maugre its noises 



150 DOWN TO BUSRA 

and discomforts. Marshall, the semi-mythical per- 
son at Corps, who had visited the Turks at Tekrit, 
scattering ruin from a ' lamb,' was everywhere said 
tobe taking bets, ten fo one, that the war would be 
ended by Christmas. If rumour spoke truth, 
Marshall must bave lost a pile of money. 
On the 22nd we entrained at Amara, reaching 
Busra late on the 23rd. We spent Christmas 
encamped on a marsh. My mare developed un- 
suspected gifts as a humorist. Every time she saw 
a tree, even a date-paire, she shied, cavorted, and 
leapt, showing the utmost amazement and terror. 
This was witty at first, but she kept it up too long. 
Busra backwaters were lovelier than ever, with the 
willows in their winter dress, gold-streaked, and the 
brooding bhle kingfishers above the waveless 
channels. Bablas" were in yellow button, scenting 
the ditches where huge tortoises crawled and clus- 
tered. On the 3oth I got a glimpse of Shaiba, of the 
tall feathery tamarisks above the Norfolks' graves 
and trenches. On January 2 we embarked on the 
Bandra. With the cheering as we moved away, the 
words of a Mesopotamian ' gaff' • recurred fo memory : 

And when we came to Ashar, t we only cheered once ; 
And I don't suppose we shall cheer again, for months, and 
months, and months. 

We drifted down the beautiful waterway, past its 
forest of palms and its abundant willows and wav- 
ing reeds. We reached Koweit Bay on the 4th and 
waited for rations and out nev boats. On the 7th we 
wereon our way to a new campaign. Inninemonths 
' Mimosa. t Concert party. 
s Af Busra ; the place of disembaxkation. 



DOWN TO BUSRA x5 x 

the Leicestershires were swinging through Beirut in 
the old, immemorial fashion, though foot-weary, and 
singing, whilst the people madly cheered and shouted. 
But it was not the old crowd. Fo»vke, Warren, 
Burrows--these three were gathered, two months 
after the battalion left Mesopotamia, at Kantara, 
when the German last offensive burst. They were 
sent at once to France. Fowke and Warren were 
badly wounded ; a letter from Fowke informed me 
that he »vas hit 'while running aay,' a iesting 
statement which one understands. 13urrows, one 
of out keenest minds and a delightful man, a valued 
friend, did extraordinarily well--he was strangely 
fearless--but was killed as the French war was end- 
ing. From the Igth Brigade Haughton, Thornhill, 
General Peebles, had all gone long ago. Haughton 
was wounded in the Afghan War, and Thçrnhill died 
of illness. And no, as I write, G.A. is off to 
South America agin, and J. Y. to Canada. 
I and my friends have seen out friends no more. 



INDEX 

ADAMS, Capfain, 80, 84 
Adhaim, Shat-el, 54, lO6, 
146, 147 
Ahwaz, 15 
Akab, 145 , 147 
AI-Ajik, 80, lO4, lO8, lO9, 
124, 125 
Ali Gharbi, 16 
Amara, 15, 15o 
Anzac Wireless, x45 , 148 
Arabs, OE6, 43 seq., 96, ioo, 
117, 122, 14% 143 
Auieh , 131 seq. 
,, (Palestine), OE7 

]ABI, 22 
Baghdad, 7, 9, 18 seq., 54, 
lO 7 , 148 
Baldry, Sec.-Lieut., 138 
Bale, Sec.-Lieut., 114 
Barrett, Major, 37, 91 
Barron, Sec.-Lieut., Iii 
Batten, Sergeant, 46 
Beit Aiessa, 17, 116 
Na'ama, 112 
Beled, 2I seq., 48 , 49, I2, 
117, 147 
Beirut, 151 
Bhopals (gth), 64, 65, 118 
Black Watch (2EEnd), 8, 9, 65, 
7 ° 
Blewitt, Captain, 84 

Bracken, Captain, lO8 
British Field Ambulance (7), 
67 
Brock, Lieut.-Col., 128 
Brodie, Lieut., 60 
Brooking, Maj.-Gen., 118 
Buddus. See ARABS 
Burn, Sec.-Lieut., i38 
Burrows, Sec:Lieut., I5i 
Busra, 112, 115, 143 , 15o 

CAILLEY'S Column, 54 
Candler, Edmund, 7, 9 
Carmel, 27 
Casualty Clearing Station 
(I9), I4o 
Cavalry, 18, 2oEE, 3 o, 36, 39, 
60, 61, lO2, 132 , 133 ' 
137, 142 
Clifton, Private, 93 
Cobbe, Lieut.-Gen., 136 
Connaught Rangers, XlO 
Copeman, Sec:Lieut. Charles, 
32 , 44, 57, 58 , 6% 80, 
II 4 
Copeman, Sec.-Lieut. J. Y., 
60, 61, 63, 69, ioi, i4z , 
151 
Cotter, Colonel, 66 
Creagh, Captain, 31, 87 
Ctesiphon, 16, 117 
Culverwell, Captain, 38 



r54 INDEX 

I)AUR, I20, 124 seq., I33, 144 
Davies, Brig.-Gen., 22, 38, 
Io7 
Delamaine, Brig.-Gen., x5 
Diggins, Captain, xo, 86 seq., 
ioI, I3 x, 134, 139, x43, 
146 
Dobson, lrivate, 32 seq., 79, 
84, 85, 92, 94, 96, 126 
Dujail Canal, 44, 45, 5 x, 62, 
7 ° , 71 , 
Dujaileh, 16, Ix6 

]RSKINE, Captain, 146 
Ewing, 1Rev. Dr., 138 
Ezra's Tomb, IX 3 

IAN', Maj.-Gn., 113 
lao, 15 
Farrell, Father, 97 
lelahiyeh, x7 
Fergusson, Sec:Lieut., x13 
lisher, Sec:Lieut., 44 
Fowke, Sec.-Lieut., 3 x seq., 
42 , 48 , 52 , 54 seq., 60 
seq., 69, 74, IOi, lO2, 
XI3, 120 seq., x32 , x42 , 

GURKHA$ (I/8th), 65, 69, 7 o, 
9 ° 
Godson, Cal)tain, I4o 
Graham, Captain, V.C., 84, 
9 ° 
Grant-Anderson, Sec:Lieut., 
35, 54, 55, 69, 81 seq., 
86, xx4, 12o, 143 , 
Grattan, Lieut.-Col., 84 
Griffiths, Lieut.-Col., lO 3 
Guides (Ist), 65, xIS, I46 , 147 

HAIGH, Cal)tain, IIx, I24, 
I26 
Hall, Sec.-Lieut., 44, 53, 54, 
81, 83 
I-Iarbe, 28, 43, 48 seq. 
Hafley, Major, 49 
Hart, Sec:Lieut., 66 
Hasted, Captain, io, 35, 36, 
44, 71, 82, 85 seq., lO2 
Haughton, Captain, 97, 151 
Hayes, Sergeant, 34 
Heathcote, Captain, x25 
Hebden, Sec.-Lieut., 53 
Henderson, Captain, 139 
Highland Light Infantry, 
Hinaidi, 148 
Hunter, Captain, xo 3 
Huweslet, 12o seq. 

INTILLIGIN CE Summaries, 
117 seq. 
Irvine, Captain, 65 
Ishtar, 147 
Istabulat, 48, 54, 57 seq. 
Italian Reverses, I24, 145 
JEBEL Hamrin, 19, 21, 63, 
x43 

I{AZlM Karabekir Bey, 62 
Keely, Sec.-Lieut., 53, 113, 
117, 148 
Kifri, 131, 146, I47 
Knatchbull, Lieut.-Col., 29, 
33, 35, 66, 87, IX2 
Knott, 1Rev. A. E., 67 
Koweit, xSo 
Kut-el-Amara, 15 seq., 54, 
I15 seq., 149 



INDEX 155 

LANCERS (3znd). Sec CAV- 
ALRY 
Lang, Captain, Il 7 
,, Sergeant, 98 
Lawrence, Sergeant, 34 
Lee, Rev. R. E., I38 , I49 
Leslie, Lieut.-Col., 49 
Light Armoured Motor Bat- 
teries, 125, 139 
Lone-Tree Village, 16 
Lowther, Captain, 89, 97, Ioi 
Lyons, Sec:Lieut., I27 

MACHINE-GUNNERS æ 22, 33, 
65, I2I 
Mackenzie, Captain, 65 
McInerney, Sec:Lieut., 57 
seq., 83, 87 seq. 
Mclntyre, Captain, I35 
McKay, Lieut., 84 
McLeod, Major, 28, 38 seq., 
95 
McLeod, Sec.-Lieut., 67 seq. 
McRae, Major, I38 
Manchesters, I17, I37 seq. 
Marner, Lieut., 35, 38 , 45 
eq. 
Marshll's Column, 85 
Marshall, Captain, I25, i5 ° 
Mason, Sec:Lieut., II 3 
,, Captin Kenneth, Io, 
26, lO5, II5, I47 
Maude, General, I8, 46, 63, 
Ili, 118, I45 
Median Wall, 56, 59 seq. 
Second, 75 seq. 
Milne, Sec.-Lieut., I38 
Mosul, 19, I13, 
Mushaidiyeh, 19, 2I, 27, 28, 
I48 

NAGPUR, Bishop of, 5 I, Io8 
Nahrwan Canal, 146 
Nasiriyeh, 15 
Newitt, Captain, 38, I25 
Norfolks, I5o 

OPIS, IO5, I45 , I47 
Otter, Sec:Lieut., 35 
Owen, Sec.-Lieut., I28, I29 

PEEBLES, 13rig.-Gen., 5 I, 76, 
97, lOI, Io7, I5 I 
Punjabis, 90, I46 

Ç'URNA, 15 
RAMADIE,, 20» IIO æ 118, 131 
Reid, Major, 6I 
Rifles (56th), 22, 3I, 39, 79, 
84 seq. 
Royal Field Artillery, 22, 30, 
63, 77, 85, 128, 139, 147 
Royal Flying Corps, I23 
Russians, I6, I7, 22, I47 
SAMARR, 8, 9, I9, 22, 70 seq., 
II3, IIT, I23, 143, I45, 
I47 
Saladin, I43 
Sanderson, Captain, 34 
Sanniyat, 17, I8, 28, 63, 64, 
65, IO9, Ii1, 1I 4 seq., 
I38 
Sarcka, I26 seq. 
Scarth, Lieut., 84, 94 
Schornberg, Lieut.-Col., I38 , 
I39 
Seaforths (ISt), 8, 6I seq., 9o, 
I37 seq. 
Service, Lieut., 32 , 33, 36 , 83 



i56 INDFfX 

Shaiba, I5, I5o 
Shefket Pasha, 62 
Sheikh Saad, 16, 116, 1381 
Shumran, 18, 116 seq. 
Sikhs (5Ist and 53rd), 22, 31 
seq., 71 seq., I25 seq. 
Sikhs (47th and 59th), I38 
Sindiyeh, 2z, 78 
Singh, Subahdar Aryan, 89 
Sinij ah, 54 
Sittake, 26 
Sowter, Lieut., 53, 58 , 97, 
102 
Stewart, Lieut., 66 
Stones, Captain, 39 
Suflolk, Major the Eafl of, 
65, 67 
Sumaikchah, 22 seq., 37, 45, 
57, 8o, III 
Sutherland, Sergeant-Major, 
138 

OEEKRIT, IO, 2"0, 132 seq. 
Tennant, Major, 22 
Thomson, trig.-Gen., 93 
Thornhill, Captain, 97, lO7 
seq., I5I 

Thorpe, Lieut., 66, 87 seq., 
102, Io 7 seq., 114 
Tivey, Sergeant, 89, 96 
Townshend, Maj.-Gen., 15 
seq., 14o 
Townshend's Regatta, 15 
Twin Canals, I 12 

UMM-EL-HANNA, 16 seq. 

WADI, 16, 83 
XValler, Lieut., 94 
"Warren, Scc.-Lieut., 68, 8I, 
II4, 151 
hrauchope, t2rig.-Gen., 8, 62 
XVir, Captain, 99 seq., lO 7 
Westlake, Sec.-Lieut., 23, 3 o, 
46 , 48 seq., 53, 75, 8o, 
92, 97, I14 
\Vhatsize, Sergeant-Maj or, 
69, 88 
\¥hitehead, Sergeant, 32, 84 
Willcocks, Sir William, 5 ° 
Williamson, Corporal, 87 
X¥ilson, Captain, 32 seq., 78 
seq., III 

XENOPHON, 26 seq., 59, 78 

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